Many area employers continue to say they are having difficulty filling jobs because they simply don’t have enough applicants.That is one of the findings in the community’s annual EmployerOne survey, conducted by the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie and 20 other organizations.More than half (54 per cent) of the 359 employers who completed the survey said they had hard-to-fill jobs in 2018. The No. 1 reason, they said, is lack of people applying for positions.“The shortage of applicants is widespread across all of southwestern Ontario, raising concerns about how to engage local workers in rewarding and sustainable employment,” said Jill Halyk, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board.“Traditional recruiting practices are no longer working and we need to find innovative ways to connect workers to meaningful jobs in local businesses.”This challenge is coming at a time when companies have been hiring and want to hire.Seventy per cent of employers surveyed locally plan to hire in this year, while 84 per cent of those employers hired last year, according to the EmployerOne results.“This is the sixth year we’ve conducted the survey and we’ve found that employers tend to underestimate their hiring plans for the year ahead,” said Halyk. “This bodes well for the local job market.”EmployerOne surveys employers in Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations and New Credit about their hiring plans, practices, needs and challenges, including skills shortages and hard-to-fill jobs.Survey results are being shared with employers, government and other groups. Results are also posted on the Workforce Planning Board’s website.Some of the survey highlights include:Manufacturing remains the area’s top employer, with 60 firms hiring a total of 1,212 people in 2018. About two in three jobs are full-time positions, with manufacturing offering the most full-time work. Online job boards are the most popular way employers recruit. Work ethic is the skill most desired by employers, followed by self-motivation. The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie is funded in part by the federal and provincial governments. It is one of 26 non-profit organizations in Ontario that play a leadership role in labour force planning.