Take Action to Grow Your Own Workforce

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If you’re like many other business owners in the trades, you know that recruiting is a constant challenge. In fact, for some businesses, recruiting and keeping talent is the top issue in the company! Finding people to maintain your company’s current size or to grow is vital; after all, even if your company is overwhelmed with calls, you can only do the amount of work you have employees for.

When will this situation end? I have bad news for you: it won’t. As older technicians age out and retire, they’re not being replaced by younger technicians as quickly as they’re needed. The only road to salvation is acknowledging that society will not fix your problem. YOU are going to have to save yourself!

Here’s the good news, however: you can train your own employees and solve your recruiting woes. And it’s not as hard as it sounds. Plenty of businesses are training their own workforce and finding great success!

Why attempt an in-house training program?

The benefits of creating your own technicians far outweigh any challenges that an in-house training program might foster. Training someone from the ground up eliminates bad habits that most experienced new hires carry in the door. Homegrown techs are prepared to do things the way you want them done. Best of all, there’s no shortage of training options for any trade. Online and virtual reality training curricula have come a long way.

Refine your search

Years ago, a hiring manager could list specific skills, traits, or abilities they were looking for in candidates and then choose from a variety of applicants. While that was once an effective staffing strategy, it doesn’t necessarily work in these challenging recruiting times.

Hiring today is about attitude, behavior, character, and work ethic. Think about this: you can probably teach anyone technical skills, but attitude? Character? These characteristics are more challenging to instill. Removing the technical aspect from a candidate search then leaves you open to individuals who have great character and simply need to be taught technical skills.

Opportunities everywhere

If you’re looking to fill your training rolls, you should always be recruiting, and there should be opportunities everywhere. If you went about your day with the keywords “attitude, behavior, character, and work ethic,” how many individuals might you encounter who embody some or all of those words? You might be surprised. Think about a service desk clerk you saw dealing with a difficult situation.  Consider the hustle of the barista at your coffee shop or the stocker at your local grocery store. You can spot talent when you see it. What if those people could be your next great technicians? They could be!

Build relationships with local youth

The service and replacement industry is about building and maintaining relationships with customers.  Why not apply the same principles to creating and maintaining your talent pipeline? What relationships do you have with your local high schools? Have you participated in any recent career days? How about offering to be a guest speaker?

If your local high school doesn’t have any shop classes, it doesn’t matter! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has seen an enormous push in nearly every level of public instruction in the last decade. The plumbing, HVAC, and electrical trades are involved in all aspects of STEM. Imagine a discussion that explains scientific principles the kids are learning about in class and a demonstration of real-world applications inside the trades. Talk about a fertile ground to grow your workforce!

Clubs and organizations are significant pipelines for talent as well. Think about the 4H or FFA chapters near you, or Scouts troops.

Now, you might be saying, “But I need someone now, not kids!”

Let me ask you this: Where would you be now if you had started doing all this five years ago? Kids grow up and graduate, and not all of them are going to want to enter a four-year college. Some of them might be a great fit for your company’s training program; some of those kids might become some of the best technicians you have.

Consider veterans and career jumpers

Veterans moving from active duty to reserve status, or those discharged into civilian life can be good candidates to fuel your company’s growth. Another group of people to look at are career jumpers. Career jumping is when those already established in a career decide they want something else and move in a different direction. You already know what the trades can offer – great pay, great work environment, and a great career. Your company might be exactly what someone who wants to change careers is looking for!

When you open in-house technical training to a wider pool of potential candidates, you help yourself solve the challenge of today’s recruiting environment. The time to start is today. You’ll never know the vast opportunities surrounding you if you don’t start taking action.

Guest Blogger: Jeff Atwell started in the plumbing trade the first business day after his high school graduation. He has more than 30 years of experience with residential and commercial service, as well as with residential new construction, and discovered a passion for teaching as an instructor at his local apprenticeship school. Jeff was the first technical coach hired to work on Nexstar Network’s NexTech Academy program. Since then, he has been working to create the best program focused on residential plumbing service. He can be reached at jeffa@nexstarnetwork.com.

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