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Nearly 50 percent of employers across the country are facing difficulty filling "mission-critical" positions, pointing to a labor shortage that experts say is having an impact in the North Bay and beyond, according to a recent survey.

While this year’s response is better than last year’s, which was 52 percent, a large number of employers face hiring challenges despite high unemployment rates.

It’s occurring in the North Bay, and it impacts a number of industries, but it has particular ramifications for the manufacturing, engineering and technical industries. [For more, see "Survey: 50% say they can’t find right candidate," Aug. 6.]

Ask just about any manufacturing company CEO about their No. 1 challenge and it is finding qualified people. We are at a moment when people desperately need jobs but lack the skills employers need. In just Sonoma County, the manufacturing group 101MFG estimates companies will need 2,000 employees over the next five years as highly skilled baby boomers retire. ...

The North Bay is not alone in this challenge. Nearly a third of small business owners nationwide surveyed by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, a peer group for senior executives, said they had unfilled job openings in July because they could not find applicants with the right skills or experience. [For more, see "Skills gap: High joblessness, labor shortage," July 27.]