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Skilled Trades Employee Shortage: How Apprenticeship Programs Can Help Fill the Gap

Filling skilled trades jobs has always been a challenge – but never more so than today. A 2018 skills gap study released by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute notes there are more than 488,000 jobs left open today and that may grow to be more than 2.4 million by 2028. Seventy-nine percent of construction firms are planning to add headcount next year, but an identical percentage are struggling to fill current openings and worry they will not find employees to meet the demand. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of high school graduates enrolling in college continues to rise while the proportion of high school students completing occupational courses has dropped from 1 in 4 in 1990 to 1 in 5 The skilled trades are a critical part of the global workforce, and the need for qualified workers is becoming even more intense as a huge number of tradespeople continue to retire each year.

If you can’t find them, make them. Offering an apprenticeship program can be a solution for your company to address this ongoing need and relieve your staffing worries. If you take the right approach with your program, the result is a win-win – benefiting not only potential job candidates, but also your business.

You Win

Apprenticeship programs help fill your hiring gaps through structured, on-the-job training of laborers interested in advancing their careers. The benefits to your business include:

  • More standardized training: An apprenticeship program will standardize your training, which enhances safety, quality, performance and output.
  • Higher productivity and profitability: A workforce with current, well-developed skills produces better work in a more efficient manner. By investing in the future of your skilled trade employees, you help your company achieve and maintain a competitive advantage.
  • Lower turnover: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 91% of individuals who complete an apprenticeship at a company are still employed nine months later. If they’ve had a positive experience at a certain company, the likelihood is high they’ll stay right there and continue contributing for the long term.
  • An enhancement of your employer brand: Community, candidate and employee relations improve as a result of a robust apprenticeship program. In today’s virtual media age, word spreads in real time. So if you offer attractive apprenticeship options, your positive impression will have an immediate ripple effect.
  • Reduce the time and expense of recruiting: Fostering relationships with local educators at high schools and technical and community colleges is free. These educators are looking for opportunities for students to be successful and are willing to work with employers on identifying the skills and traits required and helping guide students down these paths. A Rochester employer, Optimax Systems, Inc. identified this opportunity several years ago, spends the time to talk to educators and classes annually, and now has a steady flow of qualified candidates each year.

Workers Win

The hard skills workers hone during their apprenticeships are extremely important, but they also have the advantage of mastering soft skills and gaining hands-on experience. They also get a taste of a company’s work environment and culture, so they can make an informed decision whether or not they want to work there on a long-term basis.

  • Because participants in an apprenticeship are actually working, they learn about and practice your company’s processes, procedures and protocols. For them, as well as for you, it’s an opportunity to test the waters. You get first dibs to woo the best talent to your organization – and they build their resumes and emerge from their apprenticeship ready to hit the ground running.
  • Workers are getting paid while they learn and beginning a career without student loan debt. According to the US Department of Labor, workers who complete an apprenticeship program have a starting average salary of more than $50,000.  Although students graduating with a four-year degree may have a slightly higher starting average, they also have over $37,000, on average, in student loans to pay back and are starting their careers later.

Are you interested in exploring new avenues for recruiting top talent? If so, consider partnering with HR Works. We’ll work with you to customize a strategy that meets both your short- and long-term hiring needs. Contact us today to learn more.

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HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.