At a time when many contractors are looking to help solve their labor woes by bringing in more workers, a new report argues that upskilling strategies can help companies close talent gaps in their workforce and increase retention.
As more tasks are becoming automated, companies need employees who can work with this expensive equipment, according to a white paper from Hanover, Maryland-based talent provider Aerotek.
Training can be expensive and companies need to make sure that their culture and staff are prepared, according to Aerotek. They also need to ensure that their culture encourages retention. If it doesn’t, they may be training employees for their competitors.
Before any company embarks on a hands-on education program, here are seven things that managers need to keep in mind.
1) Training can fill gaps. Aerotek Business Development Executive Scott Minto said that providing new skills can help fill the biggest in-demand skillsets, including electrical, carpentry, welding and soldering, plumbing, pipefitting, machinery and construction equipment operation.
"If a valued employee isn’t utilizing certain tools and skills, for example how to read plans, the best approach to upskilling that employee would be teaching them how to do that certain skill," Minto said. "It'll open a lot more opportunities both for the company and for the employee."
2) Upskilling isn't easy. Hands-on education may help fill gaps and retain employees, but many companies aren't prepared for it. While 74% of companies acknowledge that upskilling their workforce is critical, only 10% of businesses say they are well prepared to address this issue, according to Staffing Industry Analysts.
3) Schedule regular training. Committing to training is great in theory, but how do busy companies incorporate it into their daily and weekly tasks?
Aerotek suggests getting creative with shift schedules. For instance, a company could designate one day a week solely focused on training, either on site or through virtual programs, to allow workers to develop their skills.
4) Find skill gaps. Minto said companies can start by designing a program internally based on the greatest skill gaps in employment that have been identified.
"Every company's upskilling program is going to look different because of their business and employee makeup," Minto said. "For example, one company may be well staffed on the skilled trades side but doesn’t have many superintendents. They may decide to focus on finding their top-five skilled trades employees and upskilling them to become superintendents."
5) Find the right people to train. Not every worker is ready for an education program. Companies should target certain soft skills and traits before they launch a training program, according to Aerotek. As companies approach employees about entering their training program, they are identifying future managers and trainers who need to manage interpersonal relationships and display empathy.
Companies also need to identify employees who are continuously trying to improve their craft and show an interest in the overall business. Hands-on education programs can show these workers a commitment to their growth and development, keeping promising associates in an organization.
6) Have regular reviews. To determine if employees are suitable for upskilling, organizations need to create a consistent schedule for performance reviews and one-on-one sessions. The more touchpoints a company builds in, the more it knows about an employee’s concerns and ambitions. That helps them determine if that worker is right for a long-term investment.
7) Consider outside help. If a company needs help to train its employees, it can seek outside help. Minto suggests advocating for skilled trades education at the high-school level, leveraging training from building products manufacturers, partnering with organizations that specialize in skills development and creating trade school outreach strategies are essential to bringing more workers into the construction industry.
"As for construction workers looking for help, if they have the ability and time to do so, consider enrolling in trade school or completing a course or certification in a specific skilled area," Minto said. "Or, they can talk to their employer about what skills they can learn to further a career with them."