City of Odessa Still Needs Workers

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The pieces of our complex unemployment puzzle just aren't fitting. With the oilfield slowdown, West Texas cities had hoped those leaving the fields could fill their openings, but that's not happening. There's enough workers to go around and plenty of jobs in the Basin, but all too often they are not a good match.

Odessa city leaders had hoped an oil industry slowdown would mean fewer openings in city positions.      

But even though there's an abundance of displaced workers, many don't have the certification or license to fill those needs and it's leaving the city with too many empty uniforms.

"Everyone that comes in is unemployed and they are discouraged," Don Byrne with the City of Odessa Human Resources Department, said. "Many of them are good people, but we have to have certain qualifications for all the jobs."

Right now, Odessa has 91 open positions. That's ten percent of their total workforce a figure that's starting to look less grim, but right now it's a slow process of finding the right candidate.

"10% is pretty large, but it's larger than it has been in the past," Byrne said. "I believe it's due to the oil boom and the economy and the closing of businesses."

The biggest needs are the water and police department - two entities requiring extensive training.

"That's a big problem," Byrne said. "And in the police department, the background check eliminates a good many applicants."

And all those open positions means extra overtime for the current employees.

"Because of the shortage, we do call people out and they do work overtime," Byrne said. "A lot of overtime."

Right now Workforce Solutions has an influx of oilfield service employees who are looking for work.

"Back several months ago, this was a job-seeker market," Workforce Solutions CEO Willie Taylor, said. "And it's slowly turning around and becoming more of an employer market where we have more individuals out there available for the job market especially for the Midland/Odessa area."

They've been working with local leaders to help fit workers into the city employment puzzle.

"Some of the things that the cities and the county offers is, where they might not be competitive wage-wise, they do have full benefit packages which is also great," Taylor said. 

The City of Odessa has recently brought on a part time recruiter. For the first time they've got someone to solely focus on job fairs, college graduates, and ad campaigns. 

Human resources tells us they're even getting applicants from other states who are hurting in the changing economy.