Shaheen talks jobs in Nashua

Senator leads roundtable discussion at Rivier University

August 23, 2017

NASHUA – U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen heard from business leaders Tuesday about the need for solutions to the state’s labor crunch.

The New Hampshire Democrat was in town to participate in a roundtable discussion at Nashua’s Rivier University.

“We’ve got to keep pace with the evolving labor market,”Shaheen said.

Not being able to find and keep skilled labor is the No. 1 concern Shaheen said she hears when she speaks to people throughout the Granite state. This labor shortage hits small companies hardest, and New Hampshire feels the pinch most of all, she said.

“New Hampshire is a small business state,” she said.

More than half of all private-sector jobs in New Hampshire are created by small businesses, she noted.

Val Zanchuk, with Graphicast, has found some methods that do work. His parts manufacturing operation, located in Jaffrey, offers an employee stock ownership program that give employees a voice in the future of the company.

“It makes them feel more valued and respected,” he said.

New Hampshire has a low unemployment rate and a dropping school population, both major contributors to the labor shortage, reports indicate. Coupled with the high student loan debt in the state and the high in-state tuition for colleges and universities, it is hard to keep high school students in the Granite State, some officials believe.

Zanchuk said businesses need to build relationships with the communities and with the school districts to find and train new employees, and offer real opportunities to young people.

Emily Hall Warren, with the Gilsum-based W.S. Badger, said the company does not have trouble finding employees. The company is one of the most attractive for potential employees in the state because of its triple-bottom line, she said. Those are the people, the environment, and the profits.

W.S. Badger offers innovative programs that allow employees to bring their babies to work, generous parental and family leave, and the company is dedicated to a living wage, she said. It also listens to the people who work there.

“We make sure everyone has a voice,” she said.

Shaheen said she wants to see state and federal efforts to support companies as they look for ways to keep employees in the New Hampshire.

“We need to be creative and flexible,” she said.

By:  Damien Fisher
Source: Nashua Telegraph