Gov. Tom Corbett was right when he said Pennsylvania employers can't find anybody who has passed a drug test, business leaders said Thursday.

At least that's the consensus among the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania Business Council, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The organizations held a conference call this week to discuss the workforce challenges facing companies that have open positions.

"What the governor said is absolutely valid," said Gene Barr, chamber president.

Despite an 8 percent unemployment rate, many Pennsylvania employers face challenges filling jobs, said Kevin Shivers, Pennsylvania state director of the National Federal of Independent Business.

"They don't have the skills, and drug testing is a problem," he said.

It's of greatest concern in the manufacturing industry, said David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.

In manufacturing, workers are dealing with volatile chemicals, bladed instruments, extreme temperatures and other potentially hazardous conditions, he said.

"To operate a safe workplace, manufacturers need a drug-free environment so nobody gets hurt or killed," Taylor said.

But applicants' failing drug tests is not the biggest challenge manufacturers are facing, he said.

"I hear stories where manufacturers have to go through hundreds and hundreds of applicants to find new hires," Taylor said.


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Many potential employees lack science, technology, engineering and math skills, and they lack other basic skills, he said.

"They don't have the internal discipline to show up on time, and they can't pass a drug test," Taylor said.

It's been a problem for more than 20 years, said Dave Patti, president of the Pennsylvania Business Council.

"There are 25 million Americans with an addiction problem. That's twice the size of our cancer problem, but only 10 percent of people with addiction problems get treatment," he said. "The governor was just repeating things we have all heard many, many times."

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.