As I meet with clients I am hearing how hard it is to find
young Technicians in plumbing, HVAC, or electrical service companies. Their
advertising for new Technicians goes without much in the way of success. With
unemployment high, especially for young adults, you would think there would be
a significant number of applicants for entry level or helper type positions. It
just does not seem to be. Let’s look at some of the reasons this is the case.
Without a lot of exposure to the opportunities for highly
skilled service technicians, the long-term career opportunities, and the
monetary rewards, many counselors are not showing students the careers available
with firms that provide service in our fields. Successful students are pushed
toward four year (or more) college degrees and jobs that relate to those
degrees. Students often end up with a degree, no job, and tens of thousands of
dollars of debt in their early twenties. Those students with little motivation
or poor grades are directed to a whole variety of various trades and jobs. With
the complexities in our industry today, we need successful students with great
Those Leaving the
Many younger Americans join the military when they graduate
from high school. They mature
and gain training in the military that could be
applicable to our businesses. They learn how to use tools, computers,
understand technical manuals, and many other skills. They leave the military
GI education benefits but we have few opportunities for them to use them in our
service industry. Instead, they are actively recruited into other skilled labor
industries such as aircraft maintenance, automobile repair, and computer repair.
There are schools specifically setup and operating to train young veterans in
these fields. These fields also have a lot of pizazz which we lack or we lack
conveying it to veterans.
Records, and Records
My experience has been that a third to a half of those who
apply for an entry level position cannot pass a pre-employment drug test. Many young applicants have serious driving
violations which are not acceptable to insurance companies. Since we work in
customer’s homes or place of business and employees must be able to drive our
vehicles, the legal liability is too great to for a business to take the risk
and hire them. Lastly, some come in with criminal records. This can present
business risk that most of us are unwilling to take on.
Many young job candidates are not willing to do whatever it
takes to continue in our field. They
want evening and weekends free for their
own pursuits and not burdened with on call during these times. They will pursue
jobs that don’t require interruption of their personal life.
Many young prospects are not willing to put in the years and
the energy to gain the knowledge necessary to service the plumbing, heating,
air conditioning, or electrical in homes
and businesses. They can conquer the skills needed to flip burgers in a few
hours. They can learn to do a lot of less skilled jobs in a few days or weeks.
No in house training
or career plan
Few contractors have developed any type of in house training
program for the future of their business. They look for Technicians who already
possess the technical and customer service skills necessary to meet customer
needs. There is no career plan so a young prospect can see where they can
advance and have a career not just an entry level job. All the young prospect can see is 20+ years doing exactly the same thing day in and day out. The old adage, "What's in it for me" still rings true in young people.
We think of competition, we think of other businesses in our
they are some of your competitors for young workers but businesses
outside of our field are much bigger competition. Young people with skills are
being hired by school systems, maintenance companies, chain stores, building
owners, manufacturing companies, and even unrelated services and products
Stand tuned for the next article on some ideas to overcome
some of the issues listed above.
Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at Dan@SayYesToSuccess.com
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