By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter
We’re in the midst of back-to-school season–which prompted us to update our vocational education database. And with the ongoing concern about our nation’s skills gap, the option for choosing an education to pursue a vocational career is certainly an attractive one. With plentiful skilled labor jobs to fill, trade jobs pay very well (sometimes better than four-year college degrees) and don’t saddle students with hefty student loans.
We originally released our extensive vocational education database in 2015 after conducting extensive research on thousands of vo-ed programs across the country. When we updated the list in 2017, we added about 1,000 new programs, separating them out by state tabs and standardizing the descriptions to make it even easier to search, sort and use.
Our most recent update features nearly 980 schools across the country, not including satellite or branch locations of each. There are almost 4,700 programs, offering different types of degrees or certifications. The types of programs include construction, electrician, robotics, welding, HVAC, plumbing, machine tool technology, among others. A separate tab for national programs and resources is also included.
Why would a marketing communications firm take the time to create and update such a resource? We hope our tool helps to bridge the gap between manufacturers and educational programs. The database serves as a useful tool for companies looking to implement more grassroots campaigns to recruit the next generation of professional tradesmen.
There are numerous ways to take advantage of a tool like our database. Here are a few suggestions of how to make our work, work for you.
Fill the Talent Pipeline
Your HR team or recruiting group is probably aware of area schools, but they may not be aware of all of them depending on how stretched they are. Take to tool, find the schools in your backyard and neighboring communities and connect with the programs. There are a variety of ways to connect with these programs, here are a few:
- Hire their graduates
- Provide scholarships
- Develop a co-op or apprenticeship program
- Invite them to career fairs
- Participate in recruiting events
Get In Front of the Students
Making your organization known to those learning a trade is never a bad idea. Trades people who start using a certain brand of tool or installing a specific type of product are likely to continue using them throughout their career, so get in front of them! Here are a few ways to do that.
- Lend your experts as speakers
- Bring students to your facility (perhaps for National Manufacturing Day)
- Donate materials/tools
- Offer your facility as a lab
Further Develop Your Own Talent
Vocational programs can be a resource for your own organizational development.
- Partner with local schools for continued training and certification programs for your own team
- Diversify your own employees’ skills through cross training at local programs
Support the Industry
Industries can’t move forward without the support of those inside of them. You can’t count on others to advance the field you’re in, you have to be involved. Use education programs from the list to get started.
- Help programs recruit students
- Learn about the next generation of tradespeople through the programs so that you can better work with them when they become your employees or customers
It will take teamwork and effective communication to help close the skills gap that the industry is facing. Support for vocational training programs is crucial, and it should come from those within the industry.
Visit sonnhalter.com/vocational to download the database and get started.
And of course, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to help with your marketing communications program.