(WKOW) -- Businesses across a number of industries in the United States continue to struggle to find workers.
Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says they've taken to calling it a "crisis."
"That's just exactly how bad it is," he said.
According to Bradley, there are about 178,000 jobs open in Wisconsin right now which he says is nearly twice as many open jobs as the average of the last two decades.
"We have to understand that this is a multifaceted problem," he said. "We've got to get people back into the workforce, we have to help working parents access affordable childcare, we have to have the schools fully reopen, and we have to make sure that people have the skills they need for the jobs that are available there in Madison, across Wisconsin, and throughout the nation."
The Chamber is already working to encourage the Biden Administration and governors across the country to use COVID-19 relief money to invest in employer-led job training programs. Bradley says it's a way to ensure that people who are already struggling don't have to take out too many loans or spend down their savings on a certificate or college program that might not lead to a job.
"The best way to avoid that is to make sure that it's employer-led job training programs, where employers identifying the skills that they need, and local trainers and community colleges are helping people get those skills," he said.
As the pandemic continues and COVID-19 cases rise across the country, some schools and daycares have not been able to fully reopen. Bradley says this is a contributor to the worker shortage as well because some parents may not be able to work if their children have to stay at home.
"A key to returning to a fully open economy is defeating COVID and defeating this Delta variant," he said. "Obviously, the more people who get vaccinated, the closer we'll be to putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror."
Bradley said in addition to vaccines, they support other COVID-19 mitigation efforts like mask use.
"We think it's really important that local officials who understand what's going on with transmission in their community adopt mitigation measures," he said. "We simply can't afford to lose any more people to COVID."