RALEIGH – Entering 2023, the single biggest issue for companies and for workers is labor.

That’s according to Jeronica Goodwin, senior vice president, human resources, and chief people officer at WakeMed Health & Hospitals, who spoke to the attendees of the Launch 2023 event in downtown Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon.

“The pandemic created this churn in all sectors,” said Goodwin.  “All of us have experienced a churn in the number of people who are leaving and entering the workforce.”

Labor can be thought of as a supply chain, said Goodwin.  And, right now, there are about 1.7 job openings for every one unemployed persons, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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In the Triangle, there are more than 306,000 jobs advertised on the 20 job board searches analyzed weekly by the WRAL TechWire Jobs Report.

“There’s not enough supply to meet the demand,” said Goodwin.  “We have to hire faster, bigger, and better, and we also have to invest in our workforce, we have to grow our own, as there just aren’t enough people to fill our jobs.”

Companies, including her own, said Goodwin, are now recruiting nationally to fill their open roles.  But even looking to expand recruitment geography might not be enough to fill the open roles at an organization, said Goodwin.

What’s happening in the Triangle

In early October, the number of open job postings as tracked by the WRAL TechWire Jobs Report hit an all-time high, with about 368,000 total openings in the region.

Since that high mark, there’s been a decrease.  But competition in the local labor market is still intense, with 49 of the 50 companies tracked by WRAL TechWire hiring to begin 2023.

Still, even as the total number of job openings has fallen, there are many companies that continue to hire, and a new year starting means that companies may begin to implement new or revised hiring plans.

But companies are facing worker shortages, and it’s clear that those firms who chose to operate differently in their approaches to managing their people, and hiring new workers, will have an advantage in the labor market of 2023 and beyond, said Goodwin.

“There’s no going back,” said Goodwin.  “We are in our new normal.”

So what can companies do?

First, companies can reskill their own people, said Goodwin.

“There’s not enough people to fill the vacancies, so the only way to do that is to grow your own,” she said.

Companies can also look to partner with community colleges to establish apprenticeship programs or programs that would enable them to provide additional workforce training opportunities to their existing workers.

“Making sure that your employees have flexibility and autonomy,” said Goodwin, is a critical step that companies could provide, in order to retain employees.

“We have an obligation to the people that we serve to be innovative,” said Goodwin, “to meet our applicants where they are.”


Editor’s Note: WRAL is a sponsor of the Launch 2023 event and has been a sponsor for prior Launch events organized by the Raleigh Chamber.  Watch today’s event live here on WRAL.com