With Boomers retiring at a head-spinning rate, the manufacturing sector has been in “scramble mode” for quite some time, dealing with a substantial skilled labor shortage. The candidate-driven nature of the current market has manufacturers wringing their hands with the daily dilemma of how to attract workers skilled in trade labors.

What’s a company to do, considering every other manufacturing facility is in the same short boat?

“Since urgency often precedes innovation, dramatic recruiting measures can be effective in the short term, but a more strategic approach to human resource management could be the true panacea to long-term staffing woes and improved business performance,” notes Debbie Burkett.

It’s time to stop longing for a quick fix to the skilled labor shortage; a fast solution does not exist. Instead, let’s think about long-term, strategic approaches to bridging this gap.

Combat misconceptions

The uphill battle to find adequate numbers of workers is made more difficult by the perceptions seeded deep in people’s minds as it relates to jobs in the manufacturing sector.

“False beliefs about labor industry salaries, job security, career advancement, and the threat of automation have had a massively negative impact on the number of new employees entering the labor workforce,” states Jim Arabia.

One way to dispense truth is through connections with schools, community leaders, and career counselors. Plan to participate in every possible job fair event where access to individuals and families provides an excellent opportunity to address the rampant myths and stereotypes about this crucial industry. Statistics such as these will assist your cause:

  • The average salary for skilled trades is over $65,000
  • 27% of trade school graduates earn more money than degree-earners

Simplify for more “user-friendly” interaction

Why make applicants scroll multiple pages, sifting through paragraph after paragraph for job listings? Instead, give career opportunities priority positioning on your website’s homepage. Create an application process that is both uncomplicated and convenient. Highlight benefits with an easy-to-digest bulleted list. Direct to additional pages for specific details but strive to keep the info and links that are most pertinent to job seekers on the homepage.

Reevaluate job requirements and consider a focus shift toward training and education

“For each position, ask whether the right person could be successful with the right training even if they have little experience.  If the answer is yes, focus on hiring someone who is eager and able to learn new skills rather than someone who ‘checks all the boxes’ in terms of experiences, current skills, and certifications,” advises Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center. A good training program and the opportunity to gain new skills often weight the scales in favor of one job opportunity over another.

In Part II, we’ll tackle the quandary that immediately arises after a successful hire: how to protect from the ever-present pursuit of “greener pastures” and the threat of “employee poaching.”

Let Gillmann Services, Inc., do the hard work of recruiting skilled trades employees for your commercial, industrial, mining, manufacturing, and marine construction companies. Get in contact with our team of staffing specialists today.