More jobs are coming to the Cape Fear region. Here’s what they are.

Source: Star News Online

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With an influx of people moving to Wilmington, more job openings seem to be popping up as well. As you drive through and around the Mayfaire area, you’ll see major corporations like nCino and Wilmington Health in the same complex with full parking lots, and the same is true for other healthcare and software businesses throughout the region.

To investigate such growth, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of nearly 400 businesses across the Cape Fear region to determine specific areas of development. According to the Chamber of Commerce, there are currently 9.6 million job openings and 6.4 million job seekers nationwide.

What are the top jobs locally?

The study found that almost 77% of the companies surveyed expect to grow their workforce in the next three years. Compare that to the early stage of the pandemic in 2020, when only 56% of companies were expecting growth. The industries within the Cape Fear region that are expected to have high levels of growth include construction (90%), software (93%), life sciences (88%) and health care (88%). In fact, according to the study, the healthcare industry is predicted to have the most hires within the next three years.“We are actively recruiting for positions due to all of the growth we have experienced in the community,” said Desirae Hrynko with Wilmington Health. “Now that we are past the pandemic, more people are seeking healthcare positions to really make an impact in the communities they serve in. There is growth potential and stability in healthcare. The need for healthcare will always be in demand.”

Local psychologist Dr. Tara Ferguson agreed that the pandemic played a big role in the job growth seen in the life sciences industries. “I think that the mental health crisis that began during the pandemic has increased awareness of the importance of mental health and has decreased stigma associated with receiving mental health treatment,” she said. “We were so inundated with new clients during 2021-22 that we had to refer new clients out, other than putting them on long waiting lists, for almost a year straight.” Ferguson said that there has been increased discussion about the mental health crisis in the media and political arenas, so she thinks there is also a high level of curiosity among the general public right now. “More therapists are needed to help us meet such a need,” she added.

What are the challenges employers are facing?

While job opportunities are flourishing, the study found that retaining employees is a potential challenge. Affordable housing (70%), wages (51%) and childcare (43%) were found to be key struggles that employers face while trying to hire. According to the study, the scarcity of affordable housing limits opportunities for low and middle-income workers and hinders talent retention. This can lead to a potentially high turnover. The ability to offer competitive wages and accessible childcare could also lead to a lack of talent retention.

What skills do employers desire?

Though there are environmental challenges employers face while hiring, finding the right skill set is also a known difficulty. Findings from the study show that employers are struggling to find job candidates who demonstrate desired skills like responsibility, self-discipline, the ability to take initiative and critical thinking.Despite the range of skill-sets employers would like to see, communication abilities consistently ranked as a top-priority, as well as some level of higher education, with a four-year degree being the most desirable.