Pasco school district needs qualified trades workers
WANTED: One worker skilled in repairing ovens, stoves and other cafeteria equipment.
"I've advertised for a food and nutrition repair guy nine times," Pasco County schools maintenance director Mark Fox told the Gradebook. "I can't get anyone that's qualified who wants the job."
That's not all.
Fox needs five air conditioning specialists, four electricians and experts in water/sewer, site development, plumbing, roofing and assorted other trades. He has 23 positions in all.
And Fox is struggling to fill those posts, even the ones that pay $32,000 a year plus benefits and vacation. He's advertised online. Nothing. He turned to Craig's List, where the district found kitchen workers and custodians. "We haven't gotten anything."
He figures that some trades workers might not look online for jobs, and some might not want to go through the district's background checks, and some might have moved away when construction projects dried up a few years back. But the work of his department hasn't diminished -- the staff has responded to about 12,000 work orders annually, regardless of the size of its response team.
"My guys have picked up the slack," Fox said, crediting creative scheduling and a strong work ethic.
But he acknowledged that some work gets put off, and added that the longer that maintenenance is deferred, the potential rises for increased future repair and upkeep costs.
The district is considering whether to hold a job fair to bring in potential applicants. In the meantime, it continues to advertise on its website.