Christine Zicchinolfi, Vice President of ACI Medical & Dental

ACI Medical & Dental has been preparing people for new careers in the medical and dental fields for 16 years, but lately state unemployment offices are sending fewer prospective students for training, making it more difficult to keep up with the industry’s high demand for healthcare workers.

At the New Jersey Business Coalition’s recent virtual town hall on the hiring crisis, ACI Vice President Christine Zicchinolfi said New Jersey’s One-Stop Career Centers are important to the state’s post-pandemic recovery because they help connect the unemployed with training programs, such as those at ACI, that will give them the skills to succeed in new careers.

Zicchinolfi said extended unemployment benefits, which make people less motivated to find jobs, could be why ACI is now receiving fewer One-Stop Career Center referrals, or it could be because of logistical issues and processing delays at the centers themselves, which switched from in-person to virtual services during COVID-19.

Whatever the reason, the drop-off in referrals has contributed to the current hiring crisis in the healthcare industry, she said.

“We work with many healthcare facilities in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties,” Zicchinolfi said. “The medical and dental field is in such high demand right now and, unfortunately, we are not able to keep up with their employment needs.

“A small part of what we do is work with One-Stop Career Offices and, most recently, we’re seeing less people post-COVID,” Zicchinolfi said. “We’re not sure if this is logistics. One of the offices that we work with has a turnaround time that could be a hardship to students … so we’re not sure if it is those logistics, or the overly enhanced unemployment package, but we do see a lot less students coming through the unemployment offices.”

More than 150 people attended the New Jersey Business Coalition’s May 11 town hall, including about 20 federal and state legislators or their staffs. Go here to watch Zicchinolfi’s entire presentation.