Leveraging education to attract new blood

Home Column Leveraging education to attract new blood

educationThe topic of recruitment has a been a longstanding challenge in the floor installation trade for quite some time. While specific challenges vary around factors such as geographic location, industry sector and the number of retirements, what these issues all illustrate is the industry’s common problem: a shortage of available skilled labor.

Undoubtedly, the available talent pool has shrunk. An aging workforce, the “Great Resignation” and even a shift in attitudes about work in general have made successful hiring feel like a problem that is nearly impossible to solve. However, there is reason to be hopeful. As the cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree continues to skyrocket, the floor covering installation trade is in a unique position to appeal to ambitious, mechanically minded high school graduates and semi-skilled 20-somethings with a rewarding and significantly less costly path to a fulfilling career and healthy paycheck. But to do this, we need to focus on education.

Skills training is certainly part of the solution, but as an industry we need to expand our ideas about education much further.

What does an education-focused career path look like in our industry? Here’s an overview of the essentials.

  • Fundamental knowledge. Whether derived from vocational training or apprenticeships, new hires should be equipped with the foundational principles that are essential for floor installation. These principles include the mathematics and blueprint reading skills necessary to perform installation tasks accurately and efficiently.
  • Safety training. Teaching proper safety protocols helps protect floor covering installers from injury and reduces the risk of accidents in the workplace. It also helps installers feel more confident and perform competently in their day-to-day tasks.
  • Certification and licensing. Certain floor covering installation specialty roles and products require specific certifications and licensing. Obtaining these credentials through an employer’s educational programs can improve an installer’s professional standing and open up new opportunities for advancement.
  • Skill development. Adding skills in small, manageable steps can help installers build confidence, add variety to their workday and improve daily performance.
  • Critical-thinking. Educating new recruits in real world problem-solving situations builds critical thinking skills, analytical abilities and problem-solving strategies that generate confidence and competence. Organizations that create a culture of education with structured opportunities for learning are more likely to attract top talent.

David Gross is the new executive director of INSTALL. He previously served as a full-time instructor at the Northeast Carpenter’s Apprenticeship Training Fund in Hamilton, N.J. He has also sat on the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America executive board, serving as the vice president of Local 251 for almost 20 years.

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