Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, New College has seen dozens of administrative positions left vacant as employees seek opportunities elsewhere. But this trend isn’t exclusive to college grounds; Manatee County schools have a massive deficit in labor, with over 100 positions in dire need of filling.
“We are definitely feeling the pinch, that would be an understatement,” talent acquisition specialist with Manatee County, Melissa Patrick told the Herald Tribune. “We have lots of job openings and definitely among labor positions.”
Among the many positions that require more staffers in Manatee County schools, food service jobs stand out as one of the most pressing. Schools may have taken for granted the labor that goes into distributing, packaging and serving food to students every day and now are desperate to retain and attract new employees.
Yet, there may be good reasons why workers haven’t flocked back to the grueling work that is food service. These include workers having more savings since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, giving workers the option to hedge their bets and wait. Workers also have access to a wider array of options and higher wages within an increasingly wage-competitive service industry.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the unemployment rate in Sarasota County has dipped below the 3% mark for the first time since 2019. This leaves Sarasota and Manatee schools in a difficult position, as there aren’t many people in need of work and few willing to do it for the pay they’re offering.