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Question: What can we do to solve the labor shortage?

Drew Cameron; EGIA faculty member and HVAC Sellutions Founder:

This question comes up quite a bit. I can seem to pick up a trade publication without someone mentioning it. I did a really detailed presentation about this at the last EPIC Conference and I’m happy to share my slides with our listeners if they want to shoot me an email at dcameron@egia.org. I’ll give you an overview of some of the things we’ve talked about in that session.

Action item number one is to stop looking for unicorns. A unicorn is a person who already has the right skills and mindset, they came from another company and are already very successful. They probably have a high bill-by-hour efficiency, high customer service scores, and knows everything they need to know about the job. You’re just not going to find these people.

I think you have to bring people into this industry that have a mechanical aptitude and good communication skills and want something better for themselves. You will then build this individual through technical schools and the resources we have here at EGIA. There are technical classes around the country that you can leverage to find these people.

Look outside your geographical area, pay relocation expenses for the right people. Look to people retiring out of the military because you can get paid to hire and train them. Look to schools for troubled teens. Maybe they just need someone to take them under their wing. Look to people coming out of prison or parole.

You certainly need to start working with high school guidance counselors. You want to partner with the technical education programs in the high schools, provide a scholarship, and pay for a training or starter toolkit.

When they come out of high school, the ones that aren’t going on to college you can say hey, we’re going to pay for you to get training, we’ll pay your tuition, we’re going to pay you while you’re getting the training, and we’ll give you the tools you’ll need to start the job, and if you stay, you keep the tools. You have to look beyond acquiring talent from your competition.

You can also make sure local schools have the information that we just released for the EGIA Foundation scholarship program and have that on their website.

I’d say you should make a presentation at back-to-school night for juniors and seniors. If they have a career night, you should participate in that as well. Someone at the EPIC Conference talked about going to the school and doing a career night where they had a speed dating format. Kids could have a quick conversation with various people and this particular person showed up and represented the trades.

Action item number two is, you have to have a remarkable opportunity within your company. You have to have an amazing culture. You don’t want to just be the best contractor in town, you want to be the most desirable place of employment in town. A place that not only offers a great coworker experience but a great customer experience as well because you want your people to feel empowered to do an awesome job.

If they can be proud of the place that they work and the work that they do, that’s very rewarding and makes your company a little bit stickier than somebody else’s company. You want to have a great environment, a great facility, nice vehicles, world-class resources and benefit, and offer more value than anybody else.