Skilled labor retention and recruitment are top concerns among construction and manufacturing companies right now. With the number of baby boomers retiring and fewer young people actively pursuing careers in skilled labor, there just aren’t enough qualified candidates to go around.
The evidence is hard to ignore. All respondents of the Associated General Contractors’ 2015 National Workforce Survey indicated that trouble filling positions was their number one workforce challenge. Additionally, the Manufacturing Institute’s 2015 Skills Gap Report concluded that in the next decade, 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled.
Because of this, employers must continue to put solid efforts into looking for ways to recruit and retain their current workforce as well as plan for future employment needs. We believe the following areas will be of key importance:
When jobs are scarce, employees take any job and hang onto it, even if they don’t like it. When jobs are abundant, job seekers can be much more selective. This is the current situation with skilled labor. That means it’s up to you as an employer to create a culture in which employees want to work for you and stay there.
One place to start is by identifying your company’s employee value proposition and communicating it to both your current and prospective employees. An employee value proposition – the “what’s in it for employees” to work for you – includes both the tangibles (such as pay and benefits) and intangibles (such as a sense of purpose and belonging) that you offer. A compelling employee value proposition could very well be what wins them over and keeps them.
On-the-job training and education
Employers with strong company cultures can hire for attitude and character and train to develop the needed skills for the job. More and more research points to this strategy as being successful. Character doesn’t tend to change over time, but skills can certainly be learned.
On-the-job training or development can also be a highly effective way of retaining good employees. Employees recognize the investment that the company is making in them, and that can lead to increased loyalty.
Community outreach and communication
Manufacturing and construction companies must engage their communities and partner with local schools and educational institutions to reverse negative stereotypes and build skills that are or will be needed for their industries.
It’s critical to communicate how rewarding a career in these industries can be: Not everyone gets to literally build the future, but people working for construction and manufacturing companies do. It’s important to start young in making an impression; waiting until high school is too late. There is an opportunity to engage middle and even elementary school students, and maybe more importantly, their parents, to show that there are great career opportunities in these fields. While this may not help your current employment needs, it will help position you and your industries for a prosperous future.
You already know you have a tough path ahead of you, but with that challenge will come great opportunities to become an employer of choice as you shape and build your workforce.
If you have questions about recruiting or retaining skilled labor, please contact Carrie Cox using her information below.
Senior Organizational Development Consultant
Organizational Development & Family Business Services
Carrie has experience in a variety of human resource functions, including labor laws, compensation structures, employee classification, benefits administration, performance management, and human resource best practices. She has served clients in a number of industries including manufacturing, construction, banking, and not-for-profits. Carrie is a member of the national and local chapters of the Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) and serves on the Wichita chapter board of directors.
She is a certified practitioner for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Hay Group’s Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. Her additional certifications include Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resource Certification Institute and SHRM-CP designated by the Society for Human Resource Management.