It’s no secret there’s a shortage of skilled trades and construction workers, but did you know the gap is widening? According to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), construction spending is growing, leaving a need for more than half a million new recruitments on top of the normal pace of hiring to help fill the gap.
So where can you look to recruit new workers? Just like in days of old, it’s time to get out in our communities and recruit skilled trades workers. We need to show people how much passion we have for the work we do. Passion is contagious! Here are some ideas for where you could find people that might be ready for a new a career in the trades.
Although shop classes have become an afterthought in some high schools, there are many organizations working with high school students to help educate them about trade career opportunities. Get connected with these organizations and start attending student job fairs to recruit new students interested in the trades. While you’re at the schools, see if there are any students that stand out and would work hard if you mentored them. You can also work to reignite the fire in a high school by chatting with the principal (or the current shop teacher, if the class is still offered) to see how you can offer educational opportunities for the students.
Although high schools push four-year college programs, not every student is built for a desk job. According to an article in the Daily Journal of Commerce, “Nevertheless, work needs to be done in the area of recruitment at the high school level, by educating potential recruits about the career opportunities available in the skilled trades.” Most students aren’t aware that the skilled trades offer long-term jobs with great pay.
If you have reputable trade schools or community colleges nearby, you could have a plethora of skilled trades workers to choose from. The best part is that these skilled trades workers are recently trained on the latest and greatest techniques, tools, and codes. Sure, there’s a lot for them to learn on the job, but if you’re willing to put the time in to mentor them, you will build up an amazing and talented team you can rely on.
Even if your local trade schools aren’t reputable or well-run, you might be the right person to step up and spread the word about the trades. Sometimes a small fire ignited by passion is all it takes to start transforming a community and building a better workforce for the next generation. That said, with everything on your plate, you need to decide if it would be rewarding for you to educate and watch people grow in your trade. Even if you start small by sharing your story with a class, maybe it can help encourage someone to keep learning, work hard, and try out the trade after school.
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Most national associations that support the trade you work in also have state chapters. Some of these state chapters have job boards and email notifications for new job listings, and some work with state colleges to place newly trained skilled trades workers. This is such a great place to find new talent because these people have already been trained and are ready to work.
This option may feel a little unorthodox but think of the many jobs or projects you were hired for when exchanging pleasantries while you were out and about. You’re standing behind someone in line and noticed they are buying similar items. You could strike up a conversation asking what kind of project the person is working on. It could just be a homeowner trying to do it themselves, but this is where you can see how passionate they are about doing the project. If it sounds promising, you can ask them if they ever thought of doing this type of work as a full-time job. If it sounds like they don’t like doing this line of work, then hey, you may have found yourself another customer. Either way, worth a shot!
In your neighborhood, sometimes you find people or kids that are excited about what you do and always want to learn more. Maybe you have a neighbor who is currently out of work and needs a job sooner than later. This could be the perfect time to introduce that neighbor to the skilled trades. It seems like everybody knows somebody that may need a job or is already handy and may be good at working in the skilled trades.
If you’re passionate about the trades and open to mentoring youth, there are organizations within your neighborhood, your church, or a youth organization that already provides youth mentoring that you can partner with. Mentoring is a huge time investment, but it can also be rewarding to know you are providing invaluable knowledge and hope to a young person in a tough situation. This young person is our future and could be the future of the skilled trades industry.
If you are simply just too busy to find recruits yourself, you can always work with a construction staffing agency. These agencies are great at guiding you through the hiring process and can even help lend advice on how to retain great talent when you find it. There are many agencies out there with different degrees of the assistance they can offer you.
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A lot of your business success is rooted in good communication and personal relationships. Talk with other professionals within your industry and ask how they have gone about finding new recruits. They may have some helpful tips and resources. If not, you know it’s time to step outside your industry.
Running out of immediate resources doesn’t mean you’re out of options; it just means it’s time to take it to your communities, schools, and neighborhoods to show how rewarding working in the skilled trades can be. As a contractor, you know better than anyone that you often must build the solution instead of waiting for it to find you. Go do what you do best and build, restore, and transform.