Having been a skilled tradesman (Certified Welder), and owning a manufacturing company relying solely on employees with a skilled trade, I know first hand the woes and worries of the current business owner. 84% of manufacturing employers say they cannot hire enough capable manufacturing skilled trades people, and while 82% of Americans think we should invest more in manufacturing and skilled trades jobs, only 35% of those people want their children to pursue a skilled trade career. *
Traditionally, the solution usually includes at least these four: installing automated equipment in lieu of workers, outsourcing labor to other companies or countries, residing to the fact employee turnover will be high, and turning down work or growth for lack of throughput.
Each of those “solutions” are costly and stressful for the business owner. It doesn’t have to be that way, so it’s time for a different approach to the skilled trades deficit, one that focuses more on the root of the problem to find the solution, which is local people and families. Here’s what I have found to work well at my company:
- Partnering with local community colleges and trade schools, including High School trades class.
- Give tours of your company to students.
- Become an advisory board member or similar involvement at the college/school.
- Steer the curriculum to include specific training your company requires.
- Ask for names of the “cream of the crop” of students nearing completion, and offer them a job, even take them under your wing in training.
- Making your company THE place to work.
- Go ahead and raise wages to retain valuable employees, and attract new hires. You’ve spent money on the above less-than-optimal solutions…re-invest in employees now.
- Add benefits to set your company apart and above your competition.
- Structure compensation to reward longevity, attaining skills or growth in value to your company, and give awards to those who go “the extra mile”.
- Create a positive work atmosphere, even a family-like vibe so the word gets out “If you can get on at (your company) you’ll have it made.”
- Develop the employees you need.
- Write training manuals, and give training sessions for your good workers, but who are unskilled at your trades, which can also enhance existing employees.
- Devise pay-to-train compensation plans that encourage new hires, and reward learned skills.
- Give bonuses to managers and employees who train newer or less-skilled employees.
- Reward skills learned, or even pay a portion of employee schooling if they agree to work at your company.
- Offer accomplishment-based wages, instead of (or in addition to) hourly pay. Work with the younger generation instead of fighting against them with outdated requirements.
- Re-invent your business strategy
- Re-brand with a new identity (including the root “why” you are in business), new values, new goals, and include employee participation in accomplishing those.
- Think outside the box and develop Blue Ocean Strategies to attract new business opportunities utilizing what you already have with minimal investment.
- Become customer and employee focused, instead of profit and investor focused (the latter will take care of themselves if you focus on the prior).
- Identify your values and stressors, and become values focused and eliminate your stressors.
To the Christian business owner wanting to glorify God with their business, those traditional four solutions mentioned earlier provide no opportunity to fulfill Jesus’ requirement to impact lives positively, don’t enhance God’s kingdom, nor provide the opportunity to share the Gospel and to make disciples which Jesus requested of us just before He left. Rarely, do those traditional solutions even use the gifts, desires, and talents God has given you or your workers. You need a more biblical focus, and the “different approach” just mentioned aligns with scripture better, and we can also add:
- Focus more on enhancing God’s kingdom
- Learn to obey Jesus and trust Him for the results…seek first His kingdom and leave the results and profitability in the very capable hands of God, as Matthew 6:33 states so explicitly.
- Make God and His promises part of your business plan, not merely hopes and prayers.
- Focus on serving your employees and being a good steward of what God has given you in your business. Developing and helping people should be the main focus for you…for His glory.