Marketing the Trades to the New Generation
How many students do you think dream of working in the trades? Not many. Is this because it is a career path they would not flourish in? Of course not. It is because they are not presented with the information, opportunities, and benefits this path can provide.
Not only are schools not encouraging kids to pursue the skilled trades a as a career path, but trades companies are also not marketing the advantages and abundant opportunities that can be found in these occupations. How can more students get involved in jobs such as heating and cooling, electric, and plumbing, if they aren’t aware the jobs exist, have good pay, and have rewarding benefits?
At Michigan Creative, we have two clients in the trades industry that have told us very similar stories about their struggle to find talented people to fill positions within their companies. The funny thing is the workers these companies are looking for don’t even need to have the skills required for the job when they start. The companies are prepared to train each employee they hire! Who they are looking for is someone who is punctual, ready to learn, customer-oriented, and has a positive attitude.
One of our clients, a heating and cooling company, tried for three months to find someone to fill a service tech position. This job included paid training in HVAC and other skills, $40,000 base pay, a car, a phone, and the ability to upsell products for a commission. Ultimately, they could earn $65,000 by the end of the year.
A second client of ours, a concrete company, needs a supervisor to oversee crews, drive trucks, and perform on-site labor. All training is provided and paid for along with a starting salary of $65,000. Even with benefits like that, they can’t fill the position.
Both of these companies seem like they are offering opportunities that are set up for success. But in reality, it took far too long to find someone to fill the first position and the second is still vacant. It is apparent that these companies are not successfully connecting with their potential employees. The new generation of workers is also evidently unaware of the rewards, benefits, and opportunities that exist in the skilled trades. Potential applicants do not know the companies are offering these packages.
Why I am rethinking the four-year degree route:
I am a college graduate, and while I support receiving a college education, I’m not sure if I had to do it all over again I would have attended a four-year university. I frequently hear stories from my interns who are up to their neck in debt with very little experience or knowledge right before college graduation. More times than not, the interns we hire have worked on a few projects, sat in some lectures, but do not have much hands-on experience. They seem to learn more while working here for two months rather than during their four years at university.
I have discussed the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) with my 14-year-old son, Nathan. The IBEW has an apprenticeship program at LCC that pays for all of your education while you work as an apprentice making at least $14 an hour. After you graduate and finish the apprenticeship program, you turn out as a journeyman electrician making at least $40,000 a year at 23 years old. Which option after high school sounds better to you?
What can skilled trades firms do to connect with the new generation?
It may be true that not every students dream is to work in the skilled trades, but it is the company’s responsibility to get students involved, educated, and excited about considering this direction for their futures. It is vital that skilled labor companies market better to gain more interest, enthusiasm, and growth within their businesses.
Here are some actions these fields can take to market their companies to the younger generation:
- Send apprentices and journeymen to schools to speak to students about the plentiful opportunities that exist in these fields. Listening to a personal experience is more likely to grab a student’s attention and allow them to gain a better perspective.
- Create videos that show students what a typical day looks like within your company. This will further answer any questions students would have while showing them the day-to-day realities of the business.
- Create a mobile website. Younger generations spend a great amount of time on their mobile devices. Highlighting career opportunities on a mobile website can intrigue students while creating a broader audience for your company.
- Advertise on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You need to be where your potential employees are. While students invest their time in social media, they can view your professional, eye-grabbing, and informational pages and explore new possibilities.
Actively communicating and educating current students of the ample opportunities and rewarding experiences that the trades offer is likely to increase the involvement of the new generation in these companies in the future. It is our goal to help and support skilled trades businesses in marketing – highlighting the benefits, opportunities, and value of the work performed in a fresh and intriguing way. We want to guide the skilled labor companies in illustrating to students that a four-year university is not the only option, and that following the path of trades can lead to a rewarding career with great success.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Michigan Creative can help your business appeal to talent, improve your online presence and grow your business, contact us today!