Training Work Processes Workforce

Find New Ways to Develop Your Workforce

EP Editorial Staff | January 15, 2020

Successfully developing future skilled workers involves developing relationships and delivering a message that resonates beyond one job shadow or school visit.

By Jennifer Hauschildt, Uponor North America

With working-class baby boomers retiring and growing numbers of college graduates entering the workforce, it has become more difficult to fill traditional blue-collar jobs than professional white-collar positions. For employers, that means workforce development is no longer an aspirational goal, but an immediate need. Now is the time to explore unconventional methods that will entice new candidates and develop existing employees.

Employers need to be aware of the shift in worker desires. Employees want variety, flexibility, and mobility in their careers. That means companies need to focus on the skills and strengths of each individual and explore ways to effectively use those talents to advance the company while keeping employees from becoming disenchanted and exiting.

At Uponor, a Twin Cities-based (Apple Valley, MN, uponor-usa.com) manufacturer of plastic piping (PEX) for plumbing and heating systems, we’ve experienced success leveraging the strengths of individuals to move them into new positions that offer greater opportunities and challenges. For example, one of our employees was able to use our tuition-reimbursement benefit and transfer his skills from warehouse clerk to operations training to, finally, an operations recruiter in Human Resources. The system also allows employees to move in the other direction—from the office into manufacturing or the warehouse.

Forging relationships

For the manufacturing industry in particular, finding the right candidates with the right aptitude can be a lofty challenge. Partnering strategically with local trade schools, high schools, and even middle schools, is paramount to casting a wide net for talent. But there are other methods for meeting the need.

Our Corporate Social Responsibility manager has forged strong partnerships with several non-profits in the community. Since these agencies already have trusted relationships with individuals in the area, it’s much easier to make connections with potential talent. This type of employer branding has proven to be a very successful method for generating awareness about the company and its career opportunities.

Uponor has also been involved in outreach programs in which traditional blue-collar professionals, such as plumbers and electricians, speak to students at local high schools and middle schools to dispel myths of the job and industry as a whole. When students hear first-hand how a position in manufacturing or the trades is technologically challenging, safe, and
lucrative, it changes their mindsets and raises awareness of new opportunities.

Because every educational institution, as well as non-profit agency, has different programs for connecting with individuals in the community, it’s important for employers to be strategic with the partnerships. Target programming at the circle of student influencers, including parents, teachers, and career advisors, to ensure the message resonates beyond one job shadow or school visit.

Keep in mind that relationship building is unique and takes time. To learn more about partnering with schools and non-profits in your area, connect with your local Chamber of Commerce,  local school district websites, or visit guidestar.org. EP

Jennifer Hauschildt is Vice President, Human Resources, at Uponor North America, Apple Valley, MN.

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