Drug tests are a major factor in keeping skilled workers from filling trade jobs

Drug tests are a major factor in keeping skilled workers from filling trade jobs

LUCAS COUNTY (WTOL) - "I've worked in this field for the last 30 years," said Craig Gebers. "It's an ongoing dialogue we've had with people."

Gebers of Ohio Means Jobs Lucas County is referring to drug tests.

"I think the biggest challenge we see is people that say they want to go to work, we provide them the opportunity to get them ready for work, we work on their resume, their cover letter, and things like that," Gebers said. "Some individuals follow through on all those different steps, we get them to the point of interviewing and then they go in for their testing and they cannot pass the pre-employment testing."

This is a trend that Gebers has seen before.

"We've seen this over a number of years. It's nothing that's new," he said. "I think where it's becoming more of an indicator right now is the labor market is very, very tight."

It's another factor that goes along with retirement, economic expansion and the skills gap, and one hindering manufacturers from filling open positions.

"It's a real problem," said Brad Morgan, Kennametal plant manager. "We have rigorous testing that we go through to offer positions, and even once we get to offer a position, no exaggeration, one out of three can't pass a drug test."

In Deloitte's report, when asked what the major challenges faced during recruitment of qualified, skilled workers are, the number one response, finding candidates to pass screening tests.

In addition 79 percent of executives say they have this issue.

"It's scary because I can't have impaired folks running equipment with a potential to injure themselves or damage the equipment," Morgan said. "That scares me more than the ability to find people, to be very honest with you."

It's something Wendy Gramza with the Toledo Chamber of Commerce is hearing from employers both in and out of the trade job industry.

"These are not issues that are just happening in our region, these are issues that are happening all over the country, but it's particularly affecting manufacturers," Gramza said. "They can't look the other way on drug and alcohol usage, they just can't have that in their facilities, it's a matter of life and death, literally. So they just can't allow that."

With this issue being so prevalent, Ohio Means Jobs along with the employers make sure to indicate this upfront.

"We have a checklist that we give individuals that says, 'you need to be able to pass a drug screen'," Gebers said.

"We've told them upfront, you've got to pass a drug test," Morgan said. "We send them for the drug test and then we have to call them and tell them, you didn't pass so you don't get the job."

While some may answer 'yes' to the prep checklist, Gebers said their results say otherwise.

"We're always talking to people about what you need to do to be successful in the workforce," Gebers said. "We are continuously talking about, 'can you pass a drug screen?' And they say, 'Yes! Yeah, no problem.' Some of it, they try to fake their way through it. So they will try different things."

Now in hopes of combating this cycle, Gebers says they're working to reach people at younger ages. They're talking with high school and college students about the importance of passing drug tests and how it needs to be taken seriously. The goal, of course, to fill job openings.

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