We All Need Patience: Thinking Differently to Help Meet Today’s Hiring Obstacles

The last few years have been difficult for trades to fill shop, field and office personnel openings. We’ve seen a loss of experience through people retiring or leaving the industry, which has put added stress on shop and business owners of all sizes. Companies have been reaching out and recruiting. Finding people with the talent to work in the shop or field is difficult, but we must find them.

Lessons to Learn

One of the challenges is that the schools have been cutting back on the value of skilled trades in favor of training in computers and computer repair. This is important, but not at the expense of the vocational trades. Young men and women need to learn and use computers to help improve project management, accounting, information storage, communication and machinery.

In our company, for example, we’ve added high-tech machinery that requires programmers to run the machine that produces parts for frame assembly. Sometimes the programmers are from within the fabrication group, but they also come from outside the industry and need to learn the nuances of our trade. This can be extremely difficult as they are learning what parts go where and why. This ensures they don’t run the wrong part for the wrong location on the frame.

Try to remember when it was your first day. Someone taught you about storefront and why there’s a removable stop on the sill, and the verticals have deep and shallow pockets. Hearing about how the glass is inserted into the deep pocket and then brought back to line up with the shallow pocket and inserted back into it is almost laughable to us now. Back then, it was a challenge. The programmers must learn these principles and those of even
more sophisticated systems.

Thinking Differently

Sometimes I think we’d be better to hire programmers to start in framing assembly. This way, they can understand the idiosyncrasies of the systems before they move on to programming. But when we find the right individual, we need them to start programing immediately. So, we partner them with an experienced fabricator to teach them along the way. The key is having an experienced person with the personality, patience and teaching skills to mentor the new hire.

On top of this, we still need skilled shop fabricators to assemble, glaze, package and ship finished products to jobsites promptly and correctly. At our company, we didn’t take away people but strengthened them to help them serve their skill set more effectively.

Finding employees to do this job is challenging; most people have never even thought of or heard of the glazing trade. As an industry, we need to do a better job of promoting our trade. Don’t give up on what we’ve done for years. When you see people who look like hard workers, talk to them and learn about their goals. They may like what our industry can offer and surprise you with an interest in joining.

Craig Carson is the vice president and general manager of 8G Solutions in Denver.

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