Fond du Lac area employers seeking advanced skills

March 24, 2014

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: Fond du Lac job searchers enjoy diverse options” — FOND DU LAC — Job seekers are enjoying an uptick in employment opportunities in the Fond du Lac area.

Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce president and CEO Joe Reitemeier says the area is seeing a definite shift in momentum since the first quarter of the year.

“Coming out of the recession we were a little bit behind in gaining any traction in opportunities for employment,” Reitemeier said. “In recent months we’ve literally seen dozens of companies aggressively seeking new employees.”

While large manufacturers in the area — Mercury Marine and Alliance Laundry Systems — have undergone expansions and added to their employee base, Reitemeier says job opportunities are available across a wide spectrum including manufacturing, food service, agriculture production, financial services, insurance and health care.

“Virtually every kind of job is being marketed right now,” he said. “However, one piece consistent within all the job openings is the requirement for advanced skill sets. Those people who are available for work are going to have to come with a skill set that is desired by the employer.”

Top employers in the Fond du Lac area include Brunswick, Agnesian, Alliance Laundry Systems and the Fond du Lac School District.

Success story

Kondex Corp. in Lomira, which produces engineered cutting and high-wear components for the agriculture industry and beyond, has enjoyed job growth over the past year.

Since Kondex moved to its new plant in 2007, the company has grown its employee base by 50 percent — to 280 employees, said Mike Frydryk, vice president of human resources and organizational development.

The 2012 drought hampered plans for hiring last year.

“The drought had a lag effect on our business in 2013,” Frydryk explained. “However, as we plan ahead we do expect 2014 to bring continued growth from what we are expecting from our customer base.”

While Kondex offers entry-level positions in packaging and assembly starting at $10 and $11 an hour, the manufacturer also recruits for positions requiring specific capabilities, education and experience including machine operators, welders and engineers.

Wages

Reitemeier said most of the jobs available in the Fond du Lac area fall in the $11 to $13 an hour starting range.

“We’re not really talking about minimum wage positions but positions starting at a considerably higher level. But again, those jobs require skills,” he said.

Many companies offer on-the-job training programs while others provide tuition reimbursement for employees willing to seek additional training, Reitemeier said.

“Moraine Park Technical College offers a wealth of opportunities for developing specific skills in much of the employment arenas that we’re seeing. Oftentimes those programs are available to employees where the employer will actually pay for the instruction,” Reitemeier. “Advanced degrees at institutions like MPTC or a four-year college and experience are needed for the advanced positions being offered out there.”

Late last year, Fond du Lac’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released in December 2013.

“Even with a 5 percent unemployment rate we’re virtually experiencing full employment right now,” Reitemeier said. “We’re going to have to figure out creative ways to find the qualified applicants for the positions out there.”

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