It is a rare situation nowadays when a company that is in need of entry-level employees is able to wander down to the nearest vocational education center and hand-pick its future workers from a healthy crop of talented candidates. If you are in this situation, consider yourself blessed. Most companies have lost their once-healthy feeder educational programs over the last 10 to 15 years, and have come to the realization that they are going to have to hire their entry-level candidates on a completely different set of skills. We are in an unfortunate time when we know that most candidates will not have basic machining skills. So what skills do we hire on and where do we find people with these skills?
Before beginning your search, sit with your management team and list the non-machining skills, accomplishments and attributes you know someone must have to be successful at your company. For example, the person must be: punctual, honest, hard-working, exhibit attention to detail, be a high school graduate, have some type of hobby that shows mechanical aptitude, etc.
Your list could include many requirements, but obviously they all must be non-discriminatory in nature. What you are essentially trying to define is the clay that you will be molding, or to offer an industry-specific pun: the resin that you will be molding!
Once you know what you are looking for, now you need to find it. The first area I always look to is referrals. Talk to your existing workforce, family and friends, churches and clubs; find out if the people you know and already trust know anybody that fits your description of a candidate. Oftentimes, people are excited to help someone they know find a good job.
Next, develop relationships with the schools in your area—both high schools and colleges. Meet with counselors and advisors to tell them you are looking to hire. Make sure they understand that you know you are not going to get someone with machining skills. Counselors and advisors interact with hundreds of people and are often the first to hear about it when someone is looking for a job.
You can also connect with your local Veteran Affairs office. There are many military personnel looking for work, and oftentimes these candidates possess many of the attributes needed to be successful in the industry.
And finally, place advertisements describing the job opportunity, such as online services. Present the opportunity in a positive light. Do not be rigid and unappealing. Remember, we want people to be excited to come into the industry.
These are just a few of the strategies we can use to start recruiting our next generation of workers. In the coming series of articles, we will explore how to handle the personnel once you have hired them. We spend a lot of time and effort finding the right people – now we need to make certain they learn the trade properly and they stick around for the long haul. Understanding how to train and retain our valuable skilled personnel will be the key to the long-term success of our businesses.
Ryan Pohl is President of Expert Tech. He is a journeyman CNC machinist with years of experience in high-speed and multi-axis machining. He is also a State of Michigan certified manufacturing teacher, and has taught at both high school and college levels. He holds an Associate's degree in Manufacturing Tooling, a Bachelor's degree in Technical Education and a Master's degree in Industrial Training and Development. Ryan is motivated to raise awareness in our industry about the coming skilled-labor shortage and how it has the potential dramatically hinder future sustainability and growth. He believes that with a renewal of pride in workmanship and an updated training format, Americans can secure their future as leaders in the industry.
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