If the struggle to find skilled labor is affecting you, take some consultation in the fact that you are not alone. Cold comfort, we know! Labor shortages have been making headlines lately, and the work world finds itself in a position of having more unfilled jobs than unemployed people to fill them. The situation is clear, but the why is far less so.
Many people blame extended unemployment benefits for the lack of available talent, while others point to childcare and lack of benefits. Research does not bear this out. Instead, there’s another theory emerging: it’s about quality, not quantity.
In a New York Times piece, David Autor writes:
People’s valuation of their own time has changed: Americans are less eager to do low-paid, often dead-end [work], deciding instead that more time on family, education, and leisure makes for a higher standard of living…. If the lack of enthusiasm for bad jobs lasts, does this bode ill for the U.S. economy? The answer is no — and here’s why: the US doesn’t have a job quantity problem; instead, it has a job quality problem.
And this is a silver lining for those in the construction, manufacturing, and other trade industries. The fastest way to find skilled labor may be simple: emphasizing the high quality of your positions, the opportunities for development and advancement, exceptional work/life balance, and pay that is not only competitive but excellent.
Emerging as an “employer of choice” - in a field ripe with opportunities - can help you recruit and hire skilled labor.
Turning Down Work Because of a Lack of Skilled Labor?
Our world is evolving rapidly, and consumer demand is churning. In other words, demand is high - but “supply” is low. More specifically, the supply of skilled laborers is at an unprecedented low. For example, pre-pandemic, 38% of manufacturers reported struggling to find qualified employees. A year later, this number has shot up to 54%.
In the construction world, the vast majority (88%) of contractors say they have moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled laborers, and more than a third have had to turn down work. Employers find themselves in the unenviable position of having more work than they can realistically handle - and this is no way to grow or sustain a business.
Again, you are not alone. And again, that is not a comfort. Instead of being part of dismal statistics, though, you have an opportunity to leverage your company as a high-quality employer and attract the talent you need to meet demand, meet business-building goals, and turn adversity into profitability.
The first, and most critical, step is to recruit skilled labor.
5 Tips to Find Skilled Labor
It’s time to get proactive about attracting and recruiting skilled labor. We are seeing a shift in the perceptions of the trades - and it is long overdue. For example, more parents want their children to be exposed to or take advantage of trade education in high school. More high school students say they are ambivalent about college and no longer buy into the idea that they need a four-year degree to succeed. And more people who are still paying off their Bachelor's degrees are opting to go back to trade school for better opportunities.
At the same time, we can’t wait for the change we want. We need to make it ourselves… now. To find skilled labor:
Leverage Your Existing Team
Internal hiring departments/teams are essential - but cold calling candidates and posting “Help Wanted” ads everywhere from bulletin boards to social media sites may not yield the best results. This is the traditional way of finding talent, and it clearly has some gaps we need to fill. One way to do this is to establish a referral program within your company. After all, if you have great employees, you have probably hoped, prayed, and wished you could clone them. You can’t… but you can get them to refer their contacts, who may be equally qualified, talented, motivated, and engaged.
Incentivizing the referral process can be a tremendous help. When an employee recommends a contact, offer a bonus. This could be in the form of cash, extra vacation days, or other perks that reward them both for the referral and for their ongoing work with your company.
Take Advantage of Creative Hiring Solutions
Let’s branch out and explore untapped pools of talent. For example, you could look into partnerships with trade schools, tech schools, and other institutions to find skilled labor to meet your needs. While they may not yet have the certifications or experience they need, on-the-job learning is invaluable, and you are working to deepen the talent pool in the future. Offering internships and apprenticeships are a great way to meet needs in the shorter term - and you can train excellent candidates and hire them full-time as well.
Hold an Open Interview Day
As mentioned, we are starting to see more interest in the skilled trades. This is great news… but don’t be complacent. Encourage people to come in and see what your company has to offer. An open interview day is designed to allow you to vet multiple candidates quickly and accelerate your hiring process.
To ensure it is successful, advertise your event heavily. Spread the word via social media, local newspapers and publications, radio spots, signage around your area, and within local trade schools and co-ops.
Participate In Job Fairs
Similar to open interview days, job fairs allow you to connect with several candidates in one place, at one time. Be sure to highlight your differentiators as an employer; i.e. point out how you are different, better, and why they should work for you. Yes, this is a change from traditional hiring where candidates explain why you should hire them, but making this shift is essential. Remember, people are looking for quality jobs.
Find Skilled Labor with a Staffing Specialist
Do any and all of the above. Regularly. Finding skilled labor is not a one-time effort; it takes continual work to build your workforce. You can delegate all of the heavy lifting - recruiting, vetting, interviewing, hiring - to a partner that specializes in providing skilled labor staffing. You have a need, you tell your partner, and they source the right people for the right jobs. It’s that simple.
While you do want to continue to develop your recruiting and hiring processes, leveraging the assistance of a skilled labor staffing service can make the difference now. Get the help you need to meet demand, complete jobs, and grow your company into the future.
In each of these steps, you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself as an employer of choice and emphasize the benefits available to talent who chooses you, including - critically - your company culture.
If you are struggling to find skilled labor, contact Labor for Hire.