Industry Week has a great article featuring one small manufacturing company's solution to recruiting and training skilled help, How a Small Company, in the Middle of Nowhere, Struck Workforce Gold.
Aside from being located a 45 minute drive from the nearest large city, the featured company is small. The skill set required to work there has undergone a dramatic shift in the past few years from manually operated equipment to fully automated processes that require specialization.
The company's president said that the type of people they hire hasn’t changed, but the skill sets they develop are significantly different now - that parts are getting more complex, and what their customers require of them has gotten more complex.
What they've done to create a more skilled and flexible workforce:
- In-House Training - Focusing on more in-house training allowed them to expand their field of applicants from high school graduates to people with machining experience to others changing careers.
- Manufacturing Day - Every student in the county participates in Manufacturing Day plant tours and high school sophomores through seniors are invited to attend. For many seniors who cannot afford college tuition, the opportunity to learn while earning a salary is a plus. Girls are amazed to learn that about half of the company's workforce is female and it's good paying career option they may have not considered, expanding their talent pool. Participating in Mfg Day is a great way to promote your business and develop an interest in working there - several Tribute customers participated last year.
- Forming an Education Plan - Every employee has a career development plan and the company helps them get there through tuition reimbursement. Retain quality employees by valuing their work, and giving them clear goals and the means to obtain them.
- Partnerships - The company partners with nearby universities in research projects, mentoring students and providing co-op opportunities. Many community colleges and technical schools have already developed training and apprenticeship programs with local businesses. Use them to staff your company.
- Offering flex-time - Since the company has several shifts, there's room for flex scheduling through job sharing or trading shifts. This expands their hiring pool, especially for those who may not want a full time job but would appreciate steady part-time employment.
- Understanding your community - Knowing that the local workforce may not have the specific skill set your company may be looking for but that their ingenuity and work ethic are a good basis to quickly learn new skills.
NMG Aerospace, a machining services company for the aerospace industry located in Stow, Ohio, is also proactive about creating a skilled workforce for their company. They have developed an "earn and learn" educational experience with wages that progress based on levels of achievement and ability.
Partnering with local high schools to find interested students, NMG offers qualified candidates free tuition at an accredited learning institution to learn about the machining and metalworking industry and receive up to four years of on-the-job training while they are in college or technical school. Check out how their apprenticeship programs work.
Students looking for college/technical school tuition assistance should check out local manufacturing companies to see if they offer (or would be willing to offer) training programs like these. All these training options are a great way to staff your employee pipeline, plus vet and retain long-term employees at the same time.