As CT Workforce Ages, Employers Look to Attract Young Workers, Seek State Policy Support

The good news:  three times as many Connecticut businesses say they are growing rather than contracting, innovation and investment in technology is strong and three-quarters of manufacturers surveyed say they are exporting. Those are among the lead findings in a survey of Connecticut businesses conducted by BlumShapiro and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. While the 2014 Survey of Connecticut Businesses shows optimism that Connecticut’s business landscape continues to improve, there remain concerns about the economy and the ability to create jobs in Connecticut, as well as signs that the state’s workforce continues to get older. In fact, one in four respondents are facing a wave of retirements over the next decade, with at least 40% of their workforce aged 55 or older.CTbusiness survey

“Connecticut’s workforce is aging, with 53% of our respondents reporting that 20% or more of their workforce is 55 or above. There is much to be optimistic about in this survey, but the aging workforce is certainly a challenge we continue to face,” pointed out Joseph Kask, Office Managing Partner of BlumShapiro’s West Hartford office.

While 38% of companies offer flexible work hours, only 8% offer telecommuting. One in four respondents also has specific practices or policies designed to attract and retain younger workers, including internships, tuition reimbursement, high entry-level wages, apprenticeships, and school/college recruitment programs.  Many companies employ apprentices (34%), interns (57%), and temps (58%), and eight in ten companies (79%) plan to hire these workers for permanent positions.

The survey shows slightly greater anticipated demand for mid-level employees than entry level or line workers. Among businesses of all types, workforce demand through 2015 is concentrated on mid-level employees (33% of companies say this is their area of greatest demand) followed by entry-level employees (29%), line workers (28%), managers (8%), and executive leadership (2%).Other highlights of this year’s survey include:

  • 35% of businesses surveyed indicate they are growing; 11% indicate they are contracting.
  • 46% of businesses surveyed introduced new products or services in the past 12 months; 47% of them plan on introducing new products or services in the next 12 months.
  • Three-quarters of manufacturers surveyed are exporting.
  • 52% of businesses surveyed say the most important step policymakers can take to enhance business in Connecticut is lowering taxes; 24% say it is reducing regulations, and 11% say it is cutting government regulations.
  • 27% of businesses surveyed say technology is the greatest single investment, 23% say it is employee training, and 23% say it is property and facilities.

concern When asked how Connecticut should address the shortage of skilled workers, 32% of businesses surveyed say the state should reduce the cost of living, 28% say the state should support trade schools, 20% say the state should support education overall, and 20% say there should be incentive for training steady;

The industries included in the survey include manufacturing, professional services, construction, retail, hospitality/tourism, wholesale, insurance, finance, real estate and software/technology.  Nearly one-third of the respondents were in the manufacturing sector.

CBIA is Connecticut’s leading business organization, with 10,000 member companies.  BlumShapiro is the largest regional accounting, tax and business consulting firm based in New England, with Connecticut offices in West Hartford and Shelton.