Skilled trade: Demand vs. availability

The manufacturing industry faces a tight labor market with one of the biggest challenges being the skilled trade sector. There is a constant demand for Technicians. From Maintenance Technicians to Control Technicians to Automation Technicians and many more – we’re seeing these types of candidates in high demand, everywhere. High demand plus dwindling supply equals an abundance of opportunities for these skilled trade workers. How can you attract (and retain!) these specialized candidates in your workforce?

Match or exceed the competition.

One of the main factors driving Technician’s to a new job search is pay and progression. We hear it time and time again, “My company doesn’t have a growth path for me,” or, “I’ve capped out on pay, and I want to see what else is out there.” Companies must look inward to find more development opportunities and pay increases for their employees. Only 52% of Technicians believe their employers have a clear path to career advancement for them (WrenchWay). These steps bring you closer to a workforce that feels engaged and valued, which means a reduction in turnover and a larger collection of highly specialized employees.

Since COVID, the labor market has tightened, specifically for multi-craft technicians. There aren’t as many of those candidates to go around. This has led to an emphasis in the value of new graduates. But, while these fresh grads are eager to start their careers in maintenance, many of them haven’t received enough specialized training to actually qualify for the jobs. Therefore, most of them are graduating and unable to find an entry level position because companies are looking for experience. To remedy this gap, we’ve seen companies begin to implement apprenticeship programs that give graduates the opportunity to get their foot in the door. These organizations work to develop new employees with training programs built to prepare them for success out on the floor and beyond.

Keep the talent you already have.

Keeping your current workforce should always be top of mind. Take care of your current employees by joining the 66% of companies addressing internal equity (CNBC). Approach discrepancies in internal equity by seeing how your company compares to others in your industry. If your people are underpaid, chances are they will find somewhere else to pay them more. Loyalty to your organization won’t hold up if your company can’t compete in term of market pay.

Additionally, what is your company doing to take care of your internal employees? Technicians will stay if they are consistently growing, learning and developing alongside fair wages. Technicians consistently want to learn new skills to contribute more to your organization and achieve new goals – so give them the opportunity to do so.

Have an edge to attract new talent.

When you do have openings, take a step back. What reputation does your organization have in the labor market? How do you sell your company to job seekers? Technicians are generally open to a wide range of working environments, so long as they feel confident in signing on to the company. They want to see what you can do for them (trainings, pay equity, advancement, flexible scheduling etc.) and they want to know that they will be taken care of (safety, compliance, strong leadership etc.).

And don’t forget about those new graduates looking for a technician position after getting their mechatronics or EET degrees! Not every organization is giving them a chance to start without experience, so be the company that gives them that opportunity. These apprenticeship programs leave your new employees feeling valued and have shown an 89% three-year retention rate (Jobs).

Get creative.

It's a competitive market, and technicians are becoming increasingly difficult to find. It’s time to start thinking about creative ways to keep your current employees and developing strategies to attract talent from outside your company. Just remember – other organizations are seeking technicians, and they could be looking at your people.

HTI can partner with your organization to create custom attraction and retention plans for your workforce. Our expert teams help you recruit top talent, enhance your brand image and implement development programs for your internal employees.

How are you attracting and retaining the skilled trade talent you need?


Derek Ninneman

Derek is a Professional Recruiter at HTI. He is dedicated to helping job seekers along their career journey by matching them with top employers.


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