The “Magic Bullet” For Attracting Talent To The Trades

skilled workerOne of the biggest challenges facing owners of manufacturing, trades and technology companies is attracting talent. It can be difficult encouraging people to choose “the trades” as their profession. The fact is that this is an uphill battle.

History has shown there is a lifestyle gap between those with a University Degree or Diploma and the skilled trades. I remember growing up that there were literally two sides of the tracks. One side had the professionals with their large homes, attached garages and two cars in the driveway. The other side of the tracks had the blue collar workers in their smaller homes with no garage. They had one car (older) in the driveway.

Many skilled trade workers were constantly laid off and often had to move around the country to find respectable work. This is a stigma that has stuck with many of us who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. Many of us steered our kids away from the trades.

Times have changed. There is more income parity between skilled trades and many white collar positions yet it is still very challenging attracting talent into the trades.

What is the “magic bullet” to attracting talent to the trades?

Follow basic marketing principles and sell the “sizzle” not the “steak”. I hear many business owners talking about high wages and benefits and the rewarding work. That is just the steak. The sizzle is the lifestyle.

Imagine a TV commercial that shows a skilled trade person leaving work in his “blues”. He gets into his nice new car. He drives home to his two story home in the suburbs with a double attached garage. As he gets out of his vehicle the neighbor pulls into his driveway. He gets out of his car wearing a suit and carrying a brief case. The skilled trades person asks “Hi, how was your day?” While the neighbor replies, “It was brutal. I still have 2 hours of work to do.” The final scene shows the neighbor working on paperwork in a dimly lit room. But our blue collar friend is enjoying time with his family.

So what is the key message in this story? First, the white collar worker and the trades person are neighbors, no longer separate by railroad tracks. They both have the nice house in the good part of town. The other message is the trades person can leave his work at the shop and enjoy quality time with his family. His white collar counterpart is stressed and overworked.

Start promoting the lifestyle the wage will bring. This will have greater impact in convincing talented people to consider skilled trades over white collar work.

Tony Malyk

Tony Malyk is a Certified Professional Business Coach and Business Value Accelerator specializing in improving profitability and increasing business value in the manufacturing, distribution, trades and technology sectors.