From left, Jeffrey Davoli, of PKF O'Connor Davies accountants; Don...

From left, Jeffrey Davoli, of PKF O'Connor Davies accountants; Don Levy, a Siena College pollster; and Stacey Sikes, vice president of the LIA, discuss the survey of CEOs on Thursday in Woodbury. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Too many job applicants on Long Island have poor writing skills, lack initiative and have unrealistic expectations about how much they should be paid, according to 7 in 10 local CEOs in a new poll.

About 6 in 10 said  many applicants who have come before them in the past couple of years have poor verbal skills and lack a strong work ethic and sense of professionalism.

Technical skills was the only area where prospective hires shined, with 54% of the CEOs saying they were either excellent or good in the survey from PKF O'Connor Davies accountants and the Siena College Research Institute.

"Executives' assessment of the job readiness of the applicants that they’ve seen is a bit harsh,” said Siena pollster Don Levy, who oversaw the survey of 320 leaders of businesses and nonprofits in Nassau and Suffolk counties.  “They continue to be critical of the applicants that they see walking through the door.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • More than 70% of Long Island CEOs said many job applicants they’re seeing write poorly, lack initiative and have unrealistic pay expectations, according to a new poll.
  • In the survey by PKF O’Connor Davies accountants and the Siena College Research Institute, about 60% complained about applicants having poor verbal skills and lacking a sense of professionalism.
  • More than 50% of leaders of business and nonprofits said the technical skills of job applicants are either excellent or good.

The results of the poll, which was conducted between Oct. 2 and Dec. 4, were unveiled on Thursday before an audience of about 250 people at a breakfast in Woodbury. Seventy percent of the CEOs surveyed come from either the service or banking/finance sectors of the economy.

Levy told the crowd that the annual survey also included some positive news.

The number of Long Island CEOs saying there is an adequate supply of trained workers on Long Island has climbed 10 percentage points in the past year to 30%, and recruiting has become easier for more than half those polled. 

Still, some in the audience were troubled by executives' dissatisfaction with the skills of job applicants.

"We have one of the most educated populations in the entire country, so it's a little bit concerning that businesses planning to expand are having difficulty accessing skilled and trained workers," said Stacey Sikes, a vice president of the Long Island Association business group, responding to a question from event moderator and PKF partner Jeff Davoli.

At clothing manufacturer and seller Wakes & Waves in East Rockaway, founder and CEO Anthony Capellupo said finding motivated workers is a challenge.

He participated in the PKF/Siena poll and said he relies on three to five part-time employees to sell the company's handmade bags, T-shirts and hoodies at craft fairs, farmers markets and other events.

"Last summer, I hired a bunch of kids to help out at my events and pop-up shops...Work ethic is a challenge and initiative is a challenge," recalled Capellupo, 25, who started Wakes & Waves in 2021.

Mortgage banker Daniel H. Lisser blamed the pandemic lockdowns for undermining workers' social skills, particularly interacting with co-workers and collaborating on projects.

"There is talent out there... But some in the younger generation, their interpersonal and business skills are lacking because they missed the person-to-person interaction" due to remote-only college classes, internships and first jobs, said Lisser, who took the survey and is first vice president of Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp. in Manhattan.

He said the company, which has clients locally, is looking to expand its workforce of about 100 people in the metropolitan area and to open an office on Long Island.

In the PKF/Siena poll, the number of business leaders saying they expect to grow their workforce this year fell 7 percentage points to 33%, compared with a year earlier.

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Levy, the pollster, said while those surveyed found the migrant crisis concerning, “30% of all CEOs said, ‘I have jobs that those folks could potentially fill.' ”

More than 40% of executives at factories, retailers and health care institutions said recent migrants could be a potential pool of talent to draw upon. 

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