Fresh Ideas for Staffing Your Hard-to-Fill Skilled Trade Jobs

Today, we have a guest blog from Area Temps on new ways to staff hard-to-fill positions in the skilled trade industry.

The job market is tight, and you have several unfilled openings for hard-to-find candidates, causing your company to lose production unless you pay overtime to your current staff. You’re not alone. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group report, by 2020, there will be a shortage of 875,000 machinists, welders, maintenance technicians and industrial engineers. The steady growth in Northeast Ohio manufacturing, just as many skilled laborers are reaching retirement age, is leaving employers scrambling to find the right candidates from an ever-shrinking pool of applicants. Often, positions remain open for months while HR personnel search for the perfect person who can perform 100 percent of the job duties upon hire. A better solution may be employing individuals with school training who are motivated to work in their chosen fields. Let’s explore why.

Reason #1 – Flexibility

A candidate who is looking for on-the-job experience after completing a training program will be more flexible about work responsibilities than someone with years of experience. They won’t shy away from other duties during down times, such as assisting in the warehouse or cleaning work areas. In most cases, they are satisfied as long as they perform their primary job, such as machining or welding, most of the time. In contrast, many skilled candidates feel that doing work outside their field is beneath them. Recently, we interviewed a highly skilled welder who refused to do anything except welding, even though other job requirements, such as sweeping his work area, were minimal. Needless to say, our client selected a different candidate with less experience but a more flexible mindset. In industry today, having a flexible workforce is a key component to a company’s success.

Reason #2 – Less Turnover

Some skilled applicants are available in this highly competitive market because they are simply not interested in committing to any company long-term. They may spend one or two years with an organization before seeking greener pastures and moving on to a competitor who is offering more money or better benefits. Even though these individuals require minimal training and are productive while you have them, they won’t hang around for long, and you may be in a bigger staffing bind once they leave than you were before you employed them. On the other hand, trainees tend to be appreciative and loyal to the companies that took a chance and hired them. There is a higher likelihood that they will stay with you if you treat them well and give them opportunities for advancement.

Reason #3 – Economical

To land a highly skilled applicant, you must be prepared to offer an extremely competitive salary and benefits package. And if you want to keep them, you will need to give healthy raises, which may become a strain on your budget. In contrast, a candidate with school-only training is typically willing to work for a reasonable entry-level salary to increase their hands-on knowledge in the field. Be careful of underpaying these individuals once they become proficient in their jobs. You should always keep tabs on the going rate for their experience level and pay them appropriately, so you don’t lose them to your competitors. Keep in mind that other forms of compensation work well too, such as generous vacation plans, profit sharing or production bonuses.

Reason #4 – Faster Hire

Since there are more trainees available than experienced applicants, you will be able to fill your openings more quickly. Many times, a trainee can be hired within a few days, versus the weeks or even months needed to hire a skilled individual. Leaving a position open for an extended period of time will result in higher overtime costs to offset lost production. In most cases, a trainee will become proficient in less time than it would take for you to fill the job with your ideal candidate.

Reason #5 – More Trainable

Have you ever hired a candidate who, on their first day, said, “That’s not how we did it at XYZ Company?” If so, you know how frustrating it is when a seasoned person comes into your organization and is reluctant to conform to your procedures, because they feel they know better. Granted, some of the ideas they bring to the table might be good ones, but if they haven’t learned why you handle tasks a certain way, how do they know their methods are better? Trainees come into your company with a clean slate. They are eager to be taught your processes, to prove that they have what it takes to succeed within your organization. Even though they need more initial training than a skilled candidate, they make up for their lack of experience with a willingness to learn.

Reducing the Risk of Hiring an Entry-Level Candidate

Are you still unsure about hiring candidates with limited on-the-job experience? If so, you can mitigate your risk through Area Temps’ temp-to-hire program, which gives employers the opportunity to work with applicants during a probationary period, prior to making a long-term commitment. A trainee’s ability to learn the job, their attitude, their reliability and other important factors will all become evident during this timeframe. Candidates who develop into assets to your organization can be rewarded with permanent employment, at no additional cost to you. Please contact us if you would like more details about available applicants or our temp-to-hire program.

This post originally appears here on Area Temps blog.

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