Finding Workers Takes a Proactive Approach


Finding Workers Takes a Proactive Approach

Implement proven strategies now to prepare
for another busy building season

One of the most popular topics in the news media these days is the significant lack of individuals with the necessary skills and desire to work in the residential construction industry. That shortage is being acutely felt by component manufacturers (CMs) as well, who find themselves at the crossroads between two careers currently shunned by many of America’s youth: construction and manufacturing. This makes the challenge of finding effective and reliable workers even more difficult. Fortunately, there are proven strategies that CMs have been using to combat this bias and overcome this business challenge.

Replenish Your Database of Potential Candidates

Create a plan to bolster your knowledge and listing of potential employees based on the meetings you attend, the network you have established in your market and your contact with the friends and relatives of your current staff. Keep an open mind to all the possibilities of where potential employees can be found. This will provide a network to pull from when either the work load becomes high enough that more staff is needed or when a current employee leaves. Often, when there’s a need to increase staff, companies scramble to fill a position and don’t step back to re-evaluate the job description and the skills required to ensure the job is fulfilling for the person hired to do it. This is always an opportunity to improve or redesign a role to meet current and evolving needs.

Developing a job description can be more than just compiling a list of tasks, skills and qualifications. Correlating tasks with the company’s operational goals, values and objectives can make the job description a more powerful tool in finding and evaluating potential candidates. If you need somewhere to start, check out the guidelines on SBCA’s WorkForce Development portal (go to and click “Learn About Careers in the SBC Industry”).

Allocating sufficient time for your selection process is also critical. CMs that have developed successful recruiting processes spend as much time on hiring as orientation. Getting the initial evaluation right significantly increases the odds of retaining new employees, ensuring your resources are being well spent.

Join Forces with Educational Institutions

This is one of the best places to start your search for a wellspring of workers.

CMs across the country have learned that collaboration with local, regional and state educational organizations is one of the most effective workforce recruitment approaches. If you haven’t already, designate a point person from your company to liaise between your company and  high schools, trade schools and technical colleges in your market. Contact instructors and guidance counselors to offer presentations for students to increase general awareness of the industry and specific knowledge of your open positions. Plant tours are an effective way to expose students to the manufacturing process and spark interest that can quickly translate into internships and seasonal help.

“We need to energize the next generation and get them to want to get into our industry,” says Luke Wiesen from Millard Lumber Inc., who organized a site visit for students from the technical education and CAD drafting classes of a local area high school. Wiesen argues there is work available for today’s youth that doesn’t require a college education, and he is pleased to be “part of a process that can change the industry as a whole.”  

Get Ready for Production

Plan now to look for potential candidates for summer work. Whether you attend a high school career day or a larger-scale career fair at a community college, offering summer internships is a very easy way to introduce new faces to our industry. It’s a win-win scenario: the intern gains practical knowledge of equipment and work processes, and you have the opportunity to build your pool of knowledge about the talent available. If the fit is right, the next steps to deployment are easy.

Recognizing the power of this approach, SBCA has developed guidelines for an internship program that members can use with educational institutions for students to earn credits toward graduation. Check out the guidelines on SBCA’s WorkForce Development portal.

About the Author: Lena Giakoumopoulos joined the SBCA membership development team in 2014 and also focuses on workforce development and other management committee initiatives. She holds a masters degree in global marketing and has experience writing for newsletters, manuals, brochures and websites.