By Jim Knapp, Coolfront Trade Specialist
Here we are in the 21st century. The wonks have been predicting that there would be a shortage of experienced people in the Trades for decades. Lo and behold they were right! If you are looking for a grey-hair with lots of war stories and even more bad habits, there are still a few left. But, only a few.
The problem is that there are fewer experienced, trained technicians than needed. And the demand for trained technicians is supposed to grow by upwards of 20% over the next 10 years. So, where can you find the technicians that you need?
Many service companies have adopted the “do-it-yourself” method of grooming technicians in the Trades. Owners have found that recruiting experienced technicians away from their competitors often yields mixed results, many times poor ones. Technicians that can be lured away from other employers can be the perennially dissatisfied type that can poison a work environment. They also come with a lifetime of habits that may not work well in a new work culture…and old habits are hard to break.
If we take the long view that potential is more important than training for a successful career you might find that there are lots of people available to fill those technician vacancies. In this new world of high customer expectations it is probably more important to find new hires that are personable and empathic (that fit into a work culture) than it is to start with technical training. Train them into your culture and to your standards rather than trying to deprogram someone else’s bad habits.
Women represent between .5% and 1.7% of the technician workforce in the Trades. Since they represent 51% of the population, that represents a goldmine of potential recruits. Hispanics represent 17.6%, African Americans 13.2%, and Asians 5.6% of the American population, yet they are incredibly underrepresented in the Trades. That’s a vast body of potential new hires. Taking the long view about the need for new technicians would suggest that there are lots and lots of prospective new hires out there. It may require nurturing relations, on your part, with high schools, trade schools and civic groups to find these prospects. What a win-win, trolling for new recruits while you are giving back to your community!