By Jennifer Ferrero, APR

THE 10 BEST TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR NEXT MANUFACTURING EMPLOYEES

The Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing is a hiring resource for Washington employers. Here are some tips gleaned over the years through our interactions with industry and educational groups.

#1. Post your jobs on our website

– We communicate directly with our community and technical college deans and instructors about available jobs. They can share these jobs with their students, and graduates, so that they can apply for these positions. It’s a win-win! http://www.coeaerospace.com/jobs/

#2. Check out recent graduates from our community and technical colleges

– Did you know that there is a listing of all aerospace and advanced manufacturing graduates from Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges? The Center of Excellence maintains an online listing of all community and technical college programs in Washington state that are related to aerospace and advanced manufacturing. These programs are updated twice a year, depending upon changes in each college program. Listings include the number of graduates, as well as the program details – and key contact information. The idea is that industry representatives (hint: HR folks) can review the graduates from their local community college, and find a candidate that lives nearby by contacting the program instructor directly.

#3. Be involved at the high school level

– High school instructors enjoy having guest speakers in attendance in their classrooms. Seasoned industry representatives can give students a realistic perspective as to types of jobs available and wages. Without this information, it is a shot in the dark for many students to know what to study in college, or what their future may look like. Many students are not interested in academics, but may find that hands-on, technical work may be a fit. Contact your local school district to find classroom instructors in your discipline that may wish to have you over.

#4. Get in touch with your local community college instructors

– Much like the high school teachers, college instructors love to have industry stop by the classroom to share about their projects. As an industry representative, you can also share case studies, and best practices. These students are still at an exploratory level, so information about the businesses’ big picture can be helpful. It would also be a bonus to bring students to your business for a tour. You may meet your future employees through this activity!

#5. Join an industry advisory group

– Industry advisories are a great way to learn more about best practices, and to find out about new technologies. In addition, you may connect with other folks in the industry, and find out where they are finding employees. There are advisories, like the one the Center of Excellence hosts which contains industry, educational, and nonprofit representatives in the aerospace and manufacturing space. Also, you will find advisories that exist at the high school level, such as career and technical education advisories. The latter will allow you to influence the curriculum taught to students – your future employees. It will also put you in touch with high school instructors (see #3). This link can get you started: http://www.k12.wa.us/careerteched/

#6. Talk to your competitors

– Many people are afraid to confront their competitors for fear that they will steal trade secrets, or employees. However, for many people, this simply isn’t true. In fact, in sitting down with a competitor for a cup of coffee, you may find that you can help each other. You might also discover that your products and service offerings are more different than you thought! Look at the Inland Northwest Aerospace Consortium (inwac.org). This group of manufacturing companies determined that they could be stronger together. Instead of competing, they have bonded together to refer business to each other. This has lead companies in the Consortium to refine their services, and offer better quality to their customers. They also go in on RFPs together to better compete with bigger corporations.

#7. Hold job fair events and invite friends and family of employees

– One of the best ways to get the word out about your great workplace is to invite people into it. By holding a summer barbecue, or a holiday party for family and friends of the employees, you are showing goodwill. This can translate into industry exposure for people working in retail, or fast food, who may be great candidates for training in assembly, machine maintenance, and operations.

#8. Offer apprenticeships or internships

– Washington is lucky to have an apprenticeship resource in the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (ajactraining.org). This organization can help you to land some great apprentices that are ready to work. A great apprentice can become a great employee!

#9. Participate in day-on-the-job or one-day job shadow events

– Again, look at your local high school population. These kids likely haven’t been inside a modern manufacturing factory; nor have many of their parents. For those that think of dark, dingy manufacturing facilities, imagine what would happen if they saw your vibrant, bright, organized facility! Onsite tours and job shadow days can give the right student and opportunity to really see what manufacturing is all about!

#10. Volunteer with your local robotics and/or hobbyist organizations

– FIRST Washington, who operates First Robotics in middle and high schools has 922 programs statewide. Their mission is to, “inspire all young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.” Get involved with their programs by checking out firstwa.org. You’ll make connections that may lead to highly skilled students that can become a future apprentice in your organization!