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Recruiting Blue-Collar Workers When Unemployment Is Low

blue collar worker in manufacturing job

The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969, and much of the country is celebrating what appears to be a healthy economy. However, there’s one role that’s having a hard time keeping up in such a strong economy: recruiters, specifically for recruiting blue-collar workers.

When large industries like manufacturing are experiencing instability and working through major changes, the difficult job of blue-collar recruitment only gets harder. Because of this, some rules of recruiting are changing, and we’re here to help you find creative ways to get great blue-collar workers in the door.

Networking Is for Recruiters, Too

It’s a common practice to tell candidates to network, but when you need candidates more than candidates need you, it’s time to flip that advice. If you hire linemen or welders, make a contact at a training program in your area. That gives you an easy way to funnel qualified recent graduates into your system.

One HR professional, who preferred to stay anonymous, told us how they were able to have recruiting success in a tough blue-collar market: they would go to box stores and look for employees who are really hustling. They reported that these types of employees are almost always great performers and looking for opportunity. They even had managers carry cards to give to employees at other companies that impressed them, which helped bring in eager, driven candidates.

Skill Development for Your Blue-Collar Workforce

When unemployment reaches low numbers, qualified applicants are more than likely clocking in at a different company. One way to fill your floor with skilled blue-collar employees is by building forward-thinking employee development programs. Many companies are developing training programs designed to funnel motivated people onto their work floors, and finding incredible success with these programs.

Bodine Aluminum, a subsidiary of Toyota, formed a partnership with a local tech school where prospective employees could learn not only the hard skills needed to succeed, but also business and professional skills that helped develop leaders out of entry-level candidates.

The internationally award-winning program has been recognized as a top technical career pathway program, funneling motivated and skilled workers to the Bodine plant floor!

Benefiting from a Faster Recruitment Process

If you haven’t already, it’s time to tighten up your hiring process. Because when unemployment is low, chances are that your candidates are interviewing at multiple companies. According to an MRINetwork study, it takes on average three interviews and six weeks just to send an offer!

Being faster than other companies gives you the chance to offer a better interview experience, and tightening up your hiring process creates many advantages in blue-collar recruitment.

Retaining Your Skilled Workers

The last thing you want is another recruiter reading these tips and poaching the skilled employees you’ve already found and invested in. It’s important to build a strong work culture and keep your pay and benefits competitive if you want to retain workers in a competitive labor market.

But perhaps most importantly, blue-collar workers today are recognizing the shifting state of their industries, and they’re eager to learn the skills that will help them be successful in their changing roles. That means a lot of upskilling and reskilling to prepare for working with automation and AI technologies.

Your organization’s strongest tactic for winning in blue-collar recruitment today is developing a training program that shows workers how much you value their potential to learn and adapt in their roles. 

Integrated Manufacturing & Assembly has used a blended training program of classroom and online learning to address some of their biggest business challenges. They’ve seen a 15% decrease in turnover, saving $130,000 in recruitment costs alone! Plus, touting their learning culture to candidates has made a noticeable difference in finding skilled workers for unfilled positions. Learn more about IMA’s success with building their training program here.

See how online training solutions for manufacturing can help your organization grow and navigate major changes. 

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.