Oct 13, 2021 - Business

Nashville's war for talent

Nashville road sign with a "we're hiring" sign.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Nashville is looking to hire plumbers, nurses, correctional officers and more as multiple city agencies scramble to keep their rosters full.

Why it matters: Many of the jobs Nashville leaders are looking to fill are central to key city services.

  • Metro Water Services has 96 openings, department spokesperson Sonia Allman tells Axios. Nearly 25% of budgeted waste services positions are vacant.
  • Hiring for in-person, labor-intensive jobs has gotten more difficult during the pandemic, Allman says.

The big picture: Heightened competition from the private sector, including a constant stream of construction jobs and major companies relocating to Nashville, is exacerbating the strain of the pandemic.

  • "We're in a war for talent," Michael Taylor, assistant director of Metro human resources, tells Axios. "It's very competitive here in Nashville and we're just trying to do the best we can."
  • Another career fair is in the works for next month to meet the demand.

Meanwhile: The health department is looking for animal control officers, dental hygienists and nurses (which hospitals also are competing to hire).

What they're saying: Sheriff Daron Hall tells Axios he has more than 100 vacancies, the biggest hiring pinch he's seen during his decades on the job.

  • "Yeah, we're desperate," Hall said of his agency. "To me it's the biggest crisis we're dealing with in our environment right now."

The crunch for workers forced Hall's team to get creative, overhauling hiring practices to get applicants in the door faster.

  • "We've flipped a lot of things upside down and realized that we're going to have to do things differently," Hall said.
  • Hall added he's considering pay raises and expanding part-time positions in an effort to attract younger applicants.

Yeah, but: Not every participating agency is looking to fill a large number of positions.

  • Department of Emergency Communications director Stephen Martini tells Axios he only has four vacancies, accounting for 2% of his department. He doesn't plan on hiring additional staff until next spring.

Zoom out: The pandemic has rocked the labor market nationally.


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