By Nicole Hallada, AEM Vice President of Marketing and Communications

WorkforceAttracting workers is a competitive advantage gained through grassroots efforts and activities. The company that can build relationships in its academic communities while displaying a progressive career path to parents will best its competition and succeed in establishing itself as a top-notch employer poised to win in the long run.

Based on my experience working with schools, industry, counselors, and parents, here’s how to get off to a quick start to get your company in the game...

1. Reach out today to introduce yourself to the dean of the closest technical college. Set up a time to tour the facility that most closely aligns with your business (i.e. Dean of Manufacturing) and ask “What is your greatest challenge, and how can I help?” Give them your personal mobile number and tell them to put you on speed dial. And when you do, mean it.

2. Call the guidance department and/or principals of your junior high and high schools. Explain you’re an employer in the area and you’d like to learn more about their curriculum that encourages interest in manufacturing-type careers and how you can help. This conversation has many potential outcomes from “We are a college preparatory district, no thanks” to “Let me connect you to the teacher in that area.” If the door is open, start the conversation. 

3. Call the local elementary schools. Yes, little kids. This has got to be the only industry that has a cult-like following with little kids and then manages to lose them along the way. Hold your ground and get to the girls before they go through the veterinarian stage! Ask to participate in the career day. Tell them you will provide a person to talk about manufacturing, accounting, HR, marketing, etc. All positions if necessary. Build your brand in the community. Identify your star employees, tell them you value their enthusiasm, and explain how you want them to be part of this effort.

4. Start a work…force. A group of your best and brightest to brainstorm more ideas to engage your future workforce. Designate them as community ambassadors. Ask them to build on ideas that you, or they, can take to academic leaders. Ideas like:

  • Host field trips to your facility.
  • Participate in work programs for high schoolers where they leave school to go to work and get credit. Maybe they can’t work on the line, but get them into your culture and keep the conversation going.
  • Create a competition with a class, host it, and reward it.
  • Consider scholarships for technical schools with job placement. Host a week-long summer camp.

5. Create an online ad campaign to serve up to high schoolers promoting the awesome culture and rewards of working at your company. Link it to a career page targeted just to them and what steps they need to take to work for you. Have someone on hand to talk to them about their interest. If your company can chat via snap, you’re really winning here.

6. Set up a parent information night at your company. Getting them onboard is key. Offer them to bring their kids. Incentivize it. For promotion of parent night look to schools, and local establishments to get the word out.

7. Host a “Bring your kid to work” day. Get your employees kids excited about what mom or dad do. Talk to them about welcoming them to the company family when they’re ready.

8. If your local area is not embracing the spirit of encouraging youth to pursue careers in your industry, consider calling your school board to learn how you can foster change.

9. Consider representation at community planning meetings. Is your mayor doing all he or she can to keep the area a vibrant place that youth want to stay?

10. Lead this effort from the top of the organization, at least for a while. It speaks volumes to those with whom you’re trying to build relationships.   

Manufacturing will continue to evolve with time, as will your needs as an organization. As a result, it’s critical for companies like yours to take a progressive approach toward workforce development in order to attract and inspire the employees of tomorrow and – more importantly – ensure a bright future for the industry.

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