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MONTICELLO, NY — With the coming of the casino to Sullivan County, the water park and other large employers here, the labor market has been tight. According to Laura Quigley, the long-time director of the Center for Work Force Development, that is still the case.
“It’s a very tight labor market for employers in Sullivan County,” she said in a phone interview. “There are more jobs than there are available workers, workers that are ready to go to work. We have folks that have issues, such as transportation, or child care issues, or other things going on that are making that difficult, but yeah, it’s very, very tight.
At one point, Sullivan County was near the top of the list when it came to the number of people who had jobs. In June, the county recorded the lowest unemployment rate it has ever been at 3.1%, and it’s still the case that the county has the one of the best unemployment rates in the region.
Marc Baez, executive director of the Sullivan County Partnership said at the end of June, “If you want a job there’s one out there for you.”
For people looking for a job, the healthcare industry is still one of the best places to look and has openings. Some of the available positions require a license such as certified nurses’ aide or a home-health aide.
But other positions where there are quite a number of positions open, such as residential direct support professionals at residential support facilities such as New Hope and Center for Discovery, don’t require a degree or license.
“If you are a caring and compassionate person, and you’re good working with people,” Quigley said, “it could be a great foot in the door, because all of them have career paths set up that you can move on and move up.”
When the Center for Discovery new children’s hospital opens next year in the former Frontier Building, “there is going to be a very big need for certified nurses’ assistants, I think they are going to need about 50, and that’s on top of the need that already exists in all of our other facilities. There are also some medical assistant positions available that again require a license or certification.
“There are also positions available in retail food service,” said Quigly, “and they don’t really require a degree, but what they and all other jobs require, that is a struggle, is those strong work ethic skills—the ability to show up on time with a smile on your face, ready to work, eager to learn, have great customer service skills.
“Whether it’s the Kartrite Resort and Indoor Water Park, or some of the restaurants in the area, if you have really strong customer service skills you can have a really good career.”
In response to a question about whether customer service skills can be taught, Quigley said, “You can teach customer service skills and SUNY Sullivan has quite a few one-year and two-year hospitality-tourism programs. Customer service is key, and it can be taught.”
Recently the county launched a bus service between Monticello, Liberty and Fallsburg, in large part to help people get to their jobs. She said the response has been very good.
“In the first week, we had 263 riders, in the first two days of the second week there were almost 200 riders. She said there is “good excitement” around the bus operation.
In launching the bus routes, many county officials thanked Quigley for her part in getting it off the ground. She said her role involved “not letting it get put on the shelf. I just kept pushing and pushing. I’ve been talking about this forever. With the increase in job opportunities, it created a good climate. County manager Josh Potosek was really receptive, and we worked hand in hand along with our Department of Public Works, and we had a legislature that was ready to go.”
She said in planning the route, the county reached out to 13 large employers on the loop, to get input from them. The buses also help people get to shopping and medical appointments, and if it’s successful enough there may be an expansion in the future.