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The Worker Shortage: How did we get here?


Probably the hardest hit the skilled trade industry has taken since the Covid 19 pandemic, is the loss of good workers. According to the USBLS, almost 8 million skilled trade positions became vacant during the pandemic, in what is now being called "The Great Resignation". Sure, half of those have been filled now, but another 2 million labor jobs have also been created in that time. Loss of workers has effected the entire HVACR community from fabrication to install to service.... What are other, post pandemic factors at play in this shortage, and how are the skilled trade fields supposed to gain, and retain quality workers after such an immeasurable collapse?

One cause that doesn't get enough attention, likely because its a hard one to fix, is what's affectionately been called "boomer blow out". Boomer blowout is just another term meaning "early retirement", many skilled trades offer pension and insurance through later life and deciding to live on less can sometimes be the key to not having to work anymore at all. Many of the older generation of workers have also found new callings in "work from home" jobs. If you can, why wouldn't you, right?

Another huge reason for the great resignation, is pay! Our federal minimum wage is the 4th lowest in the industrial world. That means that our wages in general are also lacking. Though most American states have implemented higher wages, the federal minimum is still only 7.25 per hour. Believe it or not, companies use that fact while deciding pay and, and also put out false info in their adds, and wait until workers are interviewed to offer them less. This may seem like a good tactic in getting people to interview, but beginning a relationship with a lie is never a good idea. Be up front about what you're willing to pay and save you both the headache.

Next is cost of relocating. Many trade workers would love to move to states with higher wages, or lower cost of living for the right job, but many companies are not advertising their relocation packages well enough. There are experienced techs with great aptitude in EVERY state, but companies tend to only advertise in their area and wonder why they're getting the same types of applicant. Make your business a killer relocation package and reach out to places like SkillCat to push them to techs. Modern problems require modern solutions!

Always remember to treat workers like people. Disrespected and undervaluing are the 2 biggest reasons people are resigning. A little bit of humanity goes a long way, especially in a loyalty based trade. Don't rule out women, you will get 50% of the hires if you rule out 50% of the population. If you want your workers to be loyal to you, be loyal to them!


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