Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Make - Don't Buy - Your Labor

There’s an interesting and distressing article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal about how, even with today’s high unemployment, there are still pockets of the market where firms can’t find the labor they need. Guess what one of the biggest sectors in this situation is. If you said “manufacturing”, ding ding ding!!! You’re right! Remember how for years critics of our educational system said that while we were educating students at a record rate, we’re actually producing fewer workers with the skills that drive our economy? There will be a day of reckoning, they said. It looks like they were right and that day is here.

It’s not that there’s a shortage of applicants; recruiters say they get hundreds per opening. It’s just that few of them have the requisite skills. As one recruiter said, “We’ve always been looking for a needle in a haystack. There’s still only one needle, but the haystack has gotten a lot bigger than it was before.”

One company mentioned in the article tried a unique approach. Since they couldn’t find qualified workers in their market, they set up a 10-week training program to create their own. Out of 24 trainee candidates, 16 made it through and began work full-time. Not great, but better than nothing.

This reminds me of a conversation I had a few years ago with Bob Trainor, CEO of Trainor Glass. Bob told me that for years, he heard glass companies lamenting that they couldn’t find qualified workers. He decided to have his company make glaziers, not find them. Today, his company requires all their employees to complete 40 hours of training each year. They have all their new employees take classes on MyGlassClass.com, which lessens the learning curve and gets them up to productivity faster. I could easily see a firm taking Trainor’s approach with a group of new starts much like the machinery company in the article.

On the auto glass side, GlassPro takes a similar approach. Each of their trainees has to complete a set number of courses on MyGlassClass.com and partner that with experience in the field. As they complete their coursework, they become eligible for certification and higher paying jobs. Again, they “make”— they don’t “buy” — their labor.

For glass and window and door companies, this article has resonance. You’re not going to just post an ad and get a rush of qualified candidates. You’ll likely need to take who you can find and turn them into the skilled workers you need. MyGlassClass.com and MyWindowClass.com can be a solution here. Contact me if you’d like more information.

Matt Rumbaugh
Sr. Manager of Education, Training, and Certification

National Glass Association, Window & Door Dealers Alliance

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