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How to recruit field service talent from the younger generations

March 18th, 2020

By Andy Roy, simPRO Business Development Manager

Over the last few years, I’ve had several conversations with business owners in the field service industry who say that recruiting talent from younger generations has proven to be a challenge. As older workers retire, there seems to be a lack of younger workers to take their place.

After briefly researching the United States labor shortage, I found an article from National Public Radio which notes that many high school students are encouraged to strive for a bachelor’s degree rather than a career in the trades. Highschoolers, as well as their parents, tend to view trade jobs negatively fearing that they won’t make much money or that the work is too strenuous.

This leads me to share two steps field service businesses can take to help ease the challenge of recruiting young talent into the trades. The first is to make efforts to shift the negative perception around trade jobs. The second is to take the time to understand what younger generations are looking for in a career path.

Shifting perceptions around the trades

In order to recruit young talent, there needs to be more positivity shared around the opportunities provided by careers in the trades.

Show potential recruits that jobs in the trades are just as stable as jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. There is a common misconception that workers can’t make much money in the trades. However, the demand for skilled labor has continued to grow over the years, and it isn’t slowing down.

In fact, field service work can lead to a well-paying and long-term career. Younger workers are hesitant to enter into employment where there is little to no room for growth. With this in mind, make an effort to create opportunities for professional growth within your own business.

This includes internal hiring into leadership positions, providing job training and offering mentorship. Mentoring is a great way to help younger workers learn important skills and feel like they are an investment - not just a resource. These growth opportunities also show you care about the career longevity of your younger staff.

Another negative perception about skilled trade work is that it is all physically demanding. While this is true for some industries, this isn’t always the case. Some industries focus more on engineering and problem solving, or fine motor skills rather heavy lifting all day, every day. If your business falls into this category, be sure to share that with younger prospects.

Two workers shaking hands

Understanding what younger generations want

There seems to be a common trend in older generations labelling younger generations as entitled. No matter your opinions of Millenials and Gen Z workers, if you want younger talent, you should avoid stereotyping.

Be open to the fact that your younger prospective hires might have different perspectives than you, and that’s ok. Instead focus on where compromises can be made by understanding what the younger generations seek in a career:

A positive work environment

Young workers care about where they work just as much as the work they are doing. Try to create a space where staff want to come to work, no matter their age. Also, prioritize workplace safety to show that you value the wellbeing of your staff.

Technology to increase productivity

Younger generations tend to be more proficient in technology and aware that it can make work easier and more efficient. In fact, just over 60% of Millennials reported that technology was a factor in their employment decisions in a survey by Comptia.

Basic digital tools for productivity and task management are becoming the norm for the workplace across multiple industries. The use of these tools will aid the productivity of younger staff, as well as help streamline business processes.

Opportunities for entrepreneurship

Much of the younger generation is entrepreneurial. So, in addition to sharing career path opportunities in the trades, it’s important to also convey that jobs in the trades can potentially lead to owning and running a business.

Illustration of multiple users interacting with a mobile phone

Ready to recruit younger talent into the trades?

As you go about recruiting new talent, be aware that today’s youth are starting to plan for their future careers much earlier than previous generations. Attend high school and middle school recruitment days and share some of the exciting opportunities your business offers. You will also be able to share the many benefits of working in the trades in order to shift perceptions.

If you have plans to include digital advertising in your recruitment efforts, make sure you meet young people where they spend time. Job recruiting on social media sites is an easy way to help your hiring announcements get seen by younger generations.

In order for us to see an increase in talent entering the field service industry, we need a major shift in the negative perception around trade work. However, if each business owner can do their part to share a positive outlook about the trades and be willing to adjust aspects of their company to fit the mindset of the younger generations, we are well on our way to making that shift.

Interested in more business development tips and advice? Visit the simPRO blog!

Andy Roy

Author - Andy Roy

As a simPRO Business Development Manager, Andy Roy is passionate about helping field service businesses improve their operations and become more efficient. Andy provides business consultations and support for a wide range of trade professionals, and is eager to offer solutions to common industry challenges. Andy resides in Texas with his beautiful wife and their two fur babies.