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Published on 2018-07-10

Mark Klein of Klein Tools discusses bringing opportunities and excitement back to the skilled trades to close the skills gap

By Mark Klein, Co-President of Klein Tools

The skills gap crisis continues to be a widespread problem for the trades. According to Adecco USA, 62 percent of firms already are struggling to fill essential positions across most construction-related industries. The demand for qualified skilled tradespeople is only expected to grow, as older, experienced professionals are retiring faster than newcomers can fill the positions. This has left many companies wondering what they can do to bridge the divide and boost employment and training among aspiring tradespeople.

To address this labor shortage and help inspire the next generation of skilled workers, we at Klein Tools decided to focus part of our annual “State of the Industry” survey on how recruiters can build interest in skilled trade careers among the younger generations. Our survey provided insights that will help employers understand why careers in the trades appeal to millennials, and why it’s important to take a proactive approach to recruiting them.

Why are millennials entering the skilled trades?

According to our survey, millennials tend to enter the trades because they have an interest in technical problem-solving and working with their hands. They also recognize the fields’ long-term job security.

How can employers help close the skills gap?

From the “State of the Industry” survey findings, we determined two crucial steps employers can take to help close the skills gap: provide more opportunities for hands-on training and build more excitement around careers in the trades.

Provide opportunities for hands-on training

Nearly one-half of electricians are concerned that not enough apprentices will enter the trades over the next five to 10 years. With more schools removing technical and vocational programs from their curricula, it is now up to local businesses, high schools and trade schools to partner together and create opportunities for individuals to learn about and gain hands-on experiences in the field. According to the Klein Tools’ “State of the Industry” survey, offering apprenticeships is the most common method of promoting skilled trades to the next generation. These types of opportunities, including internships, summer jobs and co-op study opportunities, provide students with real-world, on-the-job exposure, enabling them to experience the trades firsthand.

Build more excitement around careers in the trades

Nearly all electricians believe more should be done to promote skilled trades as an attractive career option for young people. Millennials believe employers should do more to communicate the industry’s exciting opportunities to solve complex and everyday challenges and make significant differences in people’s lives. Employers should share real-life stories that feature how tradespeople use their skills and innovative technologies to lead rewarding careers.

Nearly every one of these points can be illustrated through strategic marketing campaigns, especially on social media. For example, Klein Tools has helped promote the skilled trades through a video campaign titled, “Tools that Power America’s Passion,” which features the hard-working individuals behind the scenes at some of America’s most iconic events. From floats parading down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras to engines roaring under the lights in North Carolina, and so much more, these videos showcase the tradespeople who make all of this possible. It only makes sense for employers and manufacturers to show younger generations the exciting opportunities and successes that come along with a career in the trades.

How can companies recruit millennials?

According to our survey, 30 percent of employers have done nothing to recruit skilled tradespeople, and nearly all electricians believe more should be done to promote skilled trades as a career option for the next generation. Keep our survey results in mind and find meaningful partnerships within your community to start recruiting for local talent and bridge the skills gap.

Mark Klein is co-president of Klein Tools and oversees the company’s worldwide sales, marketing, customer service and new product development. He also leads strategic sales in the U.S. and Canada, as well as leading Klein Tools’ UK and European businesses. Mark has played a significant role in six consecutive years of record growth, bringing to market new sales channels and never-before-seen tool innovations. Mark is passionate about advancing the electrical industry and attracting new people to the field. Through his leadership, Klein Tools has created programs like the annual State of the Industry survey and the Electrician of the Year award.














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