“I fix what’s broken – except in the heart.” ― Bernard Malamud, author of The Fixer
A little over ten years ago, one of the worst decisions in recent high school education policy was made. Shop classes and vocational training in high school were all but abandoned to focus instead on preparing all high school students towards earning a college degree.
Fast forward to present day and we see the skilled trade shortage in almost every industry. Where are the people that can think critically? We often hear about stories of men and women in garages taking things apart and putting them together- sometimes to repair them, sometimes just to see how they work. This seems like it is not as common a thing as it used to be.
Fixing. Repairing. Restoring. Maintaining. All of these are words that are built around a concept -critical thinking. Critical thinking allows someone to look at a problem- whether that is an air conditioner that is not working to a lawnmower that won’t start to even things that are a different kind of complexity- data- and come up with a solution. A basic understanding and ability to figure things out.
(Nerd Note: I was talking to a friend of mine about critical thinking skills and we discussed how Google has made things easy to look up, without having to figure things out on our own. There is a ton of research that supports that technology is affecting our memory capacity and critical thinking (here is one of the more interesting experiments http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/05/is-google-ruining-your-memory-the-science-of-memory-in-the-digital-age/)
Three of the job fields that are in the highest demand across the nation take critical thinking skills. According to LinkedIn, the top three forecasted jobs are:
1) Data Visualization/ Data Scientist
2) Machine Learning/AI
3) Maintenance technicians (especially HVAC)
When I read this, I found it a little hard to believe, I mean, are maintenance technicians really the third most in demand job in our country? I could not believe what I read until this past week when I was invited to a conference of a large property management company. For those of us who have been in the corporate world a long-time the idea of a hotel lobby filled with salespeople and the awards, banquets and accolades to follow were commonplace. This had all the elements you would suspect, except instead of wooing and rewarding top sale performers, the company had ALL of its maintenance workers present and their entire two day affair was for their maintenance employees inclusive of an evening gala, awards ceremony, dancing and an after party event that would rival any event that I have ever been to in my 30 year corporate career. I was blown away.
However, it also makes sense. No matter what industry or kind of business you are in, there is almost always something that is broken. Repairing is almost always more cost effective than buying another widget every time. Entrant- the Fixer. The Repairman. The Handyman. The Super. Maintenance. Whatever the exact title he or she has, they are incredibly valuable to any organization.
So, how do you find and keep people with strong critical thinking skills? How do you find people who are the right fit for your maintenance and repair needs?
How to Find Maintenance Experts?
Know Your Local Trade Schools
Almost every city has a trade school. These vocational schools are often intensive and have strict requirements to graduate. Developing and fostering relationships with these schools gives you a talent pool that you can find and recruit quality skilled workers. These new graduates have the advantage of also being early career talent. (Read our blog about why these ECTs are valuable to your organization)
Local and Online Networking Associations
Trade Associations and special interest groups are also around. There are trade shows and conferences and basic meetings from groups of plumbers, HVAC, groundskeepers and more. Online forums where people ask questions and networking groups, such as on LinkedIn are prevalent. Insert yourself into the community and build relationships.
So, now that you can find them, how do you keep them?
Society often puts people in a hierarchy, according to skill and education. This pendulum is changing as people are realizing just how valuable some of the more physical jobs are to all our quality of life. Show the people that work in these roles respect, make sure they are paid fair and treat them as valuable people of the operation you are running and ask for advice and feedback. Don’t treat the maintenance people just as tools to be used- they have knowledge and experience which can make your entire operation more efficient. Include and learn from them.
Bringing it all Together
I hope I’ve impressed upon you the importance of reaching out and actively recruiting talent who can simply just fix things, skilled, semi-skilled and professional critical thinking individuals who have the capacity to use their critical thinking skills to solve your workplace problems. At HH Staffing we have fostered relationships with the trade schools and organizations in our markets. We have a bench of talented, critical thinkers, who can repair and fix whatever is necessary. Plumbers, Warehouse Tech, Welder’s, HVAC Tech’s, Electricians, Machinist- these are all fields with people who we have a long term relationship with and who would be honored to work at a great company like yours. By welcoming these critical thinkers into your company, you are building a long-term viable business model for your company’s future needs.
At HH Staffing, we have been in the staffing business for over 31 years. Give us a call today so we can help you recruit critical thinkers who know how to fix things!
Until Next Time,
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant
Current owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.