Thousands of high-paying Arizona jobs still vacant, state can't fill them

Posted at 8:03 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 15:48:44-04

State employers are reporting there are 10,000 high paying job vacancies with no way to fill them.

It's an issue Senator Steve Smith (R - D 11) is hoping to help solve. He held the first of three hearings to help come up with a solution that will help bring in the right workers.

"We have the sustainable workforce right here in our state, I think they don't know these jobs exist or they just think they don't exist for them," said Senator Smith. 

On Tuesday, Smith and fellow senators listened to employers in the construction industry talk about how dire the situation really is.

Michael Brewer of Brewer Enterprises Inc. said the shortage is affecting business and the economy.

"It required us to slow down and not take the amount of work we typically would have taken," said Brewer.

"There are a lot of good companies and a lot of open positions and there's a lot of money to be made, what I'm learning here I can take anywhere in the country," said Perry Lynch who currently works for Brewer Enterprises Inc.

Lynch was working in a car wash two years ago, even worked his way up to management but still only made $7 an hour.

"I was a slave over there, only Thursday's off, 12 hours a day, now I work 40 hours and make twice as much," recalled Lynch.

Lynch and his brother went to Brewer Enterprises Inc. with only two skills: The will to learn and to work hard.

"Brewer took care of me, trained me for two months and my first year I made $42,000."

That was during his training period. This year he's on his own and will net over $60,000.

The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce told ABC15 50% of the state's employers are reporting having issues finding the workers they need to fill the vacant positions, including white collar sectors like healthcare and technology.

"We've seen a variety of jobs and industries where they're struggling to find talent."

Senator Steve Smith told ABC15 the hearings will also look at solutions that will include marketing as well as connecting schools, returning veterans, the unemployed and even prison reform programs in order to fill the jobs.

"You ought to be able to go anywhere in this state and connect into the thousands of jobs that are there," said Senator Smith.

For now, construction companies are relying on word of mouth. Lynch said he's recruited friends by telling them "give me two weeks and you'll be making a grand a week, I think that's good money."

Meanwhile, the sky is the limit for Lynch who feels there is more out there.
"I made it this far and I'm still learning, there's still places for me to go, into management positions, superintendent positions," explains Lynch.