Wanted: Young workers to fill positions in construction, manufacturing, electrical, HVAC, welding and other skilled trades. Must enjoy using cutting-edge technology. Looking for creative problem-solvers who work well as part of a team. In this role, you will benefit from a sense of accomplishment, a positive work environment, excellent pay and opportunities for professional development. On-the-job training available. Gen Z applicants welcome!
Skilled Trades Get a Bad Rap
If any part of the above job ad surprised you, you're not alone. The skilled trades industry is hard-pressed to attract younger workers as senior tradespeople retire. It needs new blood.
Enter a swell of Gen Zers – those born between 1995 and 2010 – now entering the workforce. Unfortunately, fewer than one in five are likely to consider a skilled trade career.
Public perception is one roadblock. For decades, young people have been taught that a college degree will yield better pay and a better quality of life. By comparison, skilled trade work often is treated as a last resort for those who can't make the college grade. High school students are typically not encouraged to consider skilled trades as a legitimate career choice.
However, a career in skilled trades can provide a great sense of accomplishment to many young workers! It's a great opportunity for those who are good at working with their hands, those looking for jobs in high demand, those looking for strong pay and even those looking for overtime possibilities.
Expose Them to the Trades
First, however, it's essential to increase students' and parents' exposure to skilled trade opportunities. Businesses should participate in high school career fares, talk to school advisors and industrial arts teachers, and contact vocational and technical certification schools and colleges where their future talent pool is forming.
Also, don't neglect where these young workers spend so much of their time – the internet. "A social presence is essential in reaching the workforce of tomorrow. Not only will candidates going through your recruiting process today check you out on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat, but you can use these channels as a medium to build a pipeline of engaged talent with potential for future hire." Nikita Weisgerber, VP of Operations at TPD, notes, "Being proactive about your future needs can help you lower your overall talent acquisition costs, decrease time to hire, and improve quality! Further, over 70% of candidates will check your profile, rating and reviews on Glassdoor and/or Indeed at some point in the recruiting process." Check out our free guide on managing your online reputation!
Educate Your Audience
Use education to bridge the awareness gap surrounding skilled trades. For instance, the Stanley Black & Decker Inaugural Makers Index found that "most young people vastly underestimate the potential earnings in the skilled trades."
In reality, "many in the skilled professions earn six-figure wages in far less time, and with far less money spent on education, than just about any other field of work," notes Construction Business Owner.
Other benefits of a skilled trade career:
- Workers are in high demand
- New hires can receive paid on-the-job training
- Some companies will pay for workers to earn their trade degrees
- Apprenticeships and technical education programs are available
- More women are entering skilled trades
- Opportunities for career advancement and management roles
- High level of job satisfaction doing interesting work
What Businesses Can Do
It is in the industry's best interest to act now, before they lose the older workers that can best train the next generation.
"It's your job to show Gen Z how a career with your company will enhance their identity and success and showcase what they'll learn by working with a team of other skilled professionals," says LinkedIn.
Given the proper information and exposure, those want "Help Wanted" ads will bring many more interested young workers to your doors.
Not sure where to start, or see the light but struggling to make this a priority? TPD can help. Through our unique insources partnership offering, we remove the barriers and transactional nature of working with a traditional "agency" in exchange for a collaborative and sustainable approach to building your employer's brand and talent pipeline. Get in touch with our team to learn more!