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featureed image Published 2020-08-04, by Kellie Auman

Addressing the Skills Gap: Best Practices for Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Technicians

A recent report published by The AED Foundation found that over the next five years there will be a need to recruit up to 73,500 heavy equipment technicians across the manufacturing industry. At a closer look, AED distributor members collectively are seeking to fill approximately 3,300 technician positions annually. In addition, when including non-AED member dealers, the range could be anywhere from 9,000 to 14,700 unfilled technician positions annually. Clearly, this is a problem. Or is it an opportunity? We say, both.

Only a few aspects of supporting customers in the manufacturing ecosystem tend to be more challenging, time consuming and costly than locating, employing, and maintaining talented technicians. The process can be cumbersome and expensive. Streamlining these critical activities through digital tools and platforms is extremely helpful in obtaining an end-result where manufacturers, dealers, and the technicians themselves are happy and achieving their goals.

Finding the ‘right’ technicians - sounds easier than it is.

One term to remember when it comes to technician recruitment -- quality > quantity. Technician recruitment should be treated strategically. For example, consider the following:

  • Working with the trade schools in the geographic area you wish to target
  • Higher-level goals or philosophies that make working with your company attractive and compatible
  • Realize that you are selling yourself, just as surely as you’re selling your products to customers
  • Communicate the value proposition of working for your company

Practical mechanisms to carry these considerations forward:

1. Develop an ideal technician profile and connect with potential candidates.

You can find much better overall prospects by creating a strong and strategic ‘wish list’ of technician characteristics that will produce a good fit for your organization. Make sure you are being clear about day-to-day duties, company values, a realistic view of expectations and what a long-term career could look like with your company.

Connect with members in all aspects of the manufacturing distribution chain, including technicians seeking employment.

Screenshot Job Fair

2. Attract and showcase education, leadership, and career 

Recruiting today requires understanding the goals and motivations of the millennial generation. Potential applicants are seeking purposeful, goal-oriented, well-managed tech positions with a strong, reliable, and trustworthy mentor and leader. And they’re looking for stability with a defined career path, not just a job. By highlighting members of your management team’s history, successes and leadership style, you’ll attract technicians eager to work and deliver.

Screenshot User Profile

3. Incorporate incentives in the recruitment process.

Signing bonuses are still around but come with challenges. A unique approach to incentives is offering financial contributions towards educational reimbursement and training courses, equipment, tools, flexible working hours, wellness programs and more.

Employing technicians - Tackling the growing pains!

Best practices for reducing the growing pains associated with bringing new technicians on-board.

  • Simplify communications. From your initial executive welcome, to day-to-day interactions between team members, provide a single source for all communications. For manufacturers that require dealers to service their equipment, this ends up being even more important. This can make a drastic difference in in the time it takes to make new technicians feel ‘part of the team’ as well as making your company one of the preferred manufacturers to work with.
  • Make access to training easy. A new working environment lends itself to new tasks and a need for efficient and easy-to-access web-based training, including certification and testing, career development plans, and individual success tracking. When implemented well, these digital offerings can reduce overall costs within your company and pave a frictionless path to key amenities technicians are seeking.
Screenshot Development Plan
  •  Share ideas and collaborate. Ensure that your technicians are continually in the loop when it comes to topics specific to your organization. Having the right technology in place gives your techs insights, on-demand information, and capability to perform better in the field - not to mention, it avoids gaps in communication and inefficiencies.

Screenshot Private MessageKeeping technicians engaged

Once technicians are hired, your work has just begun. You’ve spent your time recruiting the right technicians, now you need to keep them happy, while encouraging them to continue to improve their own efforts on your behalf. Much of this involves:

  • Enabling success via online training modules. Offer valuable and consistent training on what your technicians want to learn (if you don’t know what that is, ask them)! Make training easy to access and tailored down to the individual level, including more specific needs like time management, customer service skills, etc. This is a huge steppingstone in overall career development -- no one wants a dead-end job.
  • Supplying each technician with the right set of tools to stay engaged with your company. The key to this step is taking the necessary steps that make doing business with your company easy. Processes that result in frustration and inefficiencies hurt performance and overall retention.

Screenshot Sales and Marketing

  • Focus on recognition. This should be an ongoing process that keeps technicians motivated, engaged, and knowing that they are part of a successful team. This can include programs like skills competitions, technician appreciation days, or even ongoing rewards for maintaining health and safety requirements.
Screenshot Scorecard
  • Providing opportunities for career advancement and new skills. This involves much more than just training. Showcase methodologies to acquire new skills, promotions, and increased compensation. To effectively maintain a technician’s engagement, your company must invest in their movement forward in the workforce.

As the manufacturing industry moves towards strengthening a recruitment and retention strategy for technicians, it’s important to understand how to charge towards a solution. FUSE is an industry-centric, digital platform that furnishes manufacturers and dealers with the ability to generate demand for future technicians, train them right, and keep them engaged and excelling successfully. Sign-up to be a member or channel owner today!

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recruiting, hiring, retaining 07-29-20