It’s been a year since Clarke County was hit by the COVID-19 crisis and local manufacturers had to creatively manage their workforce assets. In April of 2020, the county’s unemployment rate jumped from 3.4% to 11.8%, and more than 100,000 workers across the state were displaced, laid off, or simply let go when businesses had to close their doors. Now COVID restrictions have begun to lift and the economy is picking up again, especially for manufacturers in Osceola, Iowa. Unfortunately, many local businesses are struggling in their search for the right candidates to fill key positions.
“We’ve got 4,700 non-farm jobs and our major manufacturers continue to grow and add staff,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the Clarke County Development Corporation. “Now is a great time to find a job in Clarke County.”
Major Osceola employers have a variety of positions available and are casting a wide net to entice the right candidates to the region. Full of lucrative job opportunities, Osceola boasts easy access from Des Moines, Indianola, Norwalk, St. Mary’s, Martensdale and many other South-Central Iowa and Northern Missouri cities via I-35 and highways 34 and 92.
“We’re certainly in a position where we have more jobs than people to fill them, so we’re recruiting from across the state to find the right fit,” said Susan Miller, Human Resources Recruiter for the Altec body plant. “While our pay is more than competitive with most Des Moines metro employers, and our benefits package is outstanding, we’ve found that it’s our unique company culture that really makes working here desirable.”
In an effort to fill essential manufacturing positions, companies are finding new incentives to draw in applicants, encourage referrals from current employees, and reward retention among the staff. For example, The Paul Mueller Company offers an incremental referral bonus as well as new employee sign-on bonuses awarded at ninety days, six months, and one year. Altec helps employees attain Bachelor or Masters degrees in the industry by funding online courses and offers wellness benefits to employees and their spouses for completing fun and easy challenges. And Iowa Steel gives their regional sales team the opportunity to work from home or remotely as they travel the country to meet with customers, offering an excellent base salary as well as commission.
“We’re in the process of growing, locally and nationwide. On top of filling regional sales positions around the country, we’re also adding to our Osceola facility in the fall of 2021 and hiring more skilled labor,” said Kate Patton, Human Resources Director at Iowa Steel. “Clarke County is full of employers offering diverse opportunities with competitive pay and an excellent work-life balance. We’re just looking for the right applicants.”
While unemployment rates are relatively low, there is still a lot of work available in Clarke County and Osceola. Employers are finding that top pay and benefits aren’t the only tools needed to draw in a workforce.
“Money isn’t the most important thing people are looking for these days. People are looking at our culture, and finding a place they enjoy coming to every day, and positioning their family to do more than just make ends meet,” said Lauren Robins, Human Resources Generalist II for Paul Mueller Company. “On-site training, and a safe and healthy work environment are all important to prospective employees. Most of all they want to know that they’re valued and able to be productive and growing for years to come.”
Clarke County’s manufacturing industry has advantages not found in bigger cities across the state. Factors like job security, educational incentives, and unique, diverse opportunities for advancement are all part of what draws in a workforce that drives the success of the entire community.
For more information about the availability of jobs mentioned in this article, feel free to reach to the Human Resources department at each company: Altec Osceola Body Plant, HR Recruiter, Susan Miller, 641-223-8807, email: [email protected]; Iowa Steel Human Resources Director, Kate Patton, 641-342-2134, email: [email protected]; or at Paul Mueller Company, Lauren Robins, Human Resources Generalist II, 641-342-5521, email: [email protected].