Friday, July 8, 2011

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Death of Vocational Education. Insight from Brian Robinson, President & CEO of TRC Staffing Services, Inc.

I grew up during the 70’s and 80’s in a typical suburban neighborhood outside of Atlanta.  During that time, Marietta, Georgia was one of the fastest growing areas in the Country.  My elementary school was growing so quickly, I went to a brand new school by the time I was in third grade.  It was the same way in high school as well; my freshman year I was on a split schedule due to overcrowding and the following year, I had to go to a brand new school built to accommodate the growth.

Looking back on school during that period of time, certain changes stand out to me.  One is cigarette smoking in school. Yes, you heard me correctly. During my first year of high school, kids could get their parents to sign a permission slip to smoke on campus.  The following year, smoking wasn’t allowed. It still amazes me that kids were allowed to smoke at school back then.  Today, an adult is hardly allowed to smoke in public!

The other big change I witnessed was the loss of focus on Vocational Education.  The older kids in my neighborhood would always talk about going to classes like wood work, drafting and machine shop. But, when I got to high school, the only way to take those classes was to take a bus for half the day to another school in the county.  The schools were focusing on college prep rather than vocational skills, and at the time it really didn’t seem like a big deal.  Today, however I think we have a huge problem brewing in the American workforce.

The training gap in the U.S workforce is recognizable to most staffing professionals.  We spend a large part of our time helping clients find “people that are hard to find.”  Usually, this means a degreed professional like an accountant or engineer.  But, more and more, I am seeing skilled blue collar workers fall into the “hard-to-find” category.  When I say skilled blue collar workers, I mean maintenance techs, plumbers, tool builders, welders, and operators trained on specific machines.   When I talk to folks about this problem, many times they seem surprised.  But, word is getting out. Just google “skilled workers in the US” and plenty of items will come up regarding this issue.

What does this mean?  If you are a policy maker in the government, this is a huge opportunity to get unemployed people working again.  We have jobs that are OPEN!  But these jobs can only be filled with people with specific skills.  We need to train people to possess the real skill sets companies are looking for.  If you want to know what these jobs are, just ask your nearest staffing professional.

If you are unemployed or not happy with your job, there are opportunities.  More and more technical schools are offering programs in these sought-after fields.  If you get a degree or certification in one of these skills, you will become sought after and will separate yourself.    Today, a worker with a hard-to-find skill set will set his own wage.  You will be able to do this no matter what happens with China and India, because as far as I can tell, no one from China is going to fix my leaking pipes in Atlanta, Georgia.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Enjoy your July 4 weekend with family and friends, and remember the hard work that created our country in the first place and gained its independence!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Should you let your employees telework?

Should your company offer employees the option to telework? That depends.

1. Does the nature of your work lend itself to working remotely?

2. Do you want to compete for the best talent? According to a recent study at WorldatWork, almost 80% of employees would like the option to telework at least part of the time, and the war for talent is escalating.

3. Do you want to reduce your company’s carbon footprint?

4. Do you believe less stress and time consumed commuting will lead to higher productivity?

5. Do you include telecommuting skills (self-reliant, self-motivated, collaborative, communicative, able to handle ambiguity) in your job requirements?  Looking for employees with the ability to work virtually will prevent lost productivity and turnover.

6. Do you know the indicators of employees with good telecommuting skills (previous successful experience, personality tests)?  Based on U.S. Census data, 61% more employees considered home their primary place of work in 2009 than in 2005.  As more companies offer telework, more employees will acquire these skills.

7. Does your company favor a culture of trust, over the old carrot and sticks method of motivating people?

If you answered yes to these questions, your company, your bottom line, and those of us who do have to drive to work (in traffic) may benefit from you offering your employees the option to telecommute.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Growing Demand for IT Talent

As we touched on earlier this week, competition for IT skills and talent is high and growing.  Companies of all types and sizes increasingly rely on technology for so many aspects of their business – from marketing to fulfillment.  As technology advances almost daily, it can be difficult to find employees who understand it – how to use it, how to fix it when it breaks, how to exploit it.

Companies need developers with a holistic understanding of technology.  Those who know multiple languages and platforms – in particular, desktops, mobile, and cloud (here’s why).  The job-seeker with both IT skills and business knowledge is even more desirable to employers.  IT is now an integral part of business strategy, and employees who understand the larger picture add the most value.

As a business owner, how can you attract and retain this talent?  If you’re a smaller business, you have the advantage of offering rapid advancement opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded job-seekers.  Whatever size your company, you’ll need to be prepared to offer competitive salaries, varying depending on whether your technology is front and center to customers, or more back-end.

TRC Professional Solutions locates and qualifies the best IT candidates across a wide spectrum of IT fields for employers in Atlanta, GainesvilleBirmingham, Dallas, Austin, Tampa, Sarasota, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Columbia, Souderton and other cities across the U.S.  To learn more about our information technology staffing services, visit our site.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Do We Fix Unemployment?

How do we fix unemployment?

According to politicians, the answer is create jobs.  Some politicians get elected to office on the promise of creating X number of jobs.  The reality is, though we know politicians would love to create jobs, they cannot deliver on their promise in an immediate and sustainable fashion.  No one can create jobs.  Jobs evolve out of need.  And need comes from ingenuity.  These politicians could sit at their desks and play on Facebook for their entire terms and jobs would still be “created” where there’s a need.

The other truth is, companies and businesses don’t want more jobs.  They want more money.  If they expand their products and services to make more money, which then leads to more jobs, everyone wins.  But opportunity for profit comes first; not jobs for the sake of jobs.

This is common sense, right? So what’s the reason for unemployment?

The answer: there’s a worker supply and demand disconnect.  The United States is still the #1 manufacturer in the world (though China will probably surpass us this year).  But thanks to rapidly changing technology, factories rely on expensive precision equipment to produce, rather than simple manual labor.  Employees must possess at minimum basic math skills, and most need advanced technical training.

Yet, roughly 80 million Americans – that’s 40% of the adult population (over age 25) – are undereducated.  Not only are these Americans not getting the education they need to fill the jobs available, but many companies no longer spend the resources to train employees.  Companies want employees to come in experienced and ready to work.

To mend the gap in skills available and skills required, Americans need to become aware of the skills needed and train themselves accordingly.  This Recession has been notorious for the white collar workers it’s affected, but the largest spike in unemployment came from the undereducated.

Friday, June 17, 2011

“I own a staffing company… how will [healthcare laws] affect my industry?”

The discussion continues on healthcare and how the new law will affect companies and business owners.

For example, we came across this forum thread, in which the owner of a staffing firm wrote “I own a staffing company… how will this affect my industry?”

Forum responses to that question ranged from helpful to heated.  No one can predict the exact effects healthcare legislation will have on staffing companies or other types of companies.  However, a new statistic says one in three companies may choose to pay the 8% payroll tax rather than offer the type of healthcare required by the new law.  The new law will force us to change the way we do things, administratively speaking.  The financial and cultural implications could be enormous.

Here’s what we do know.  Companies must adhere to the new law.  And United States citizens must have access to quality healthcare.  It will be especially important to well-verse ourselves in the administrative aspects required by the new law.  Understanding the ins and outs of the requirements will help us formulate the most strategic plan for accomplishing these challenges while making a profit.

We’ve hashed out some of the bottom-line facts here and also throughout this blog.

Are you thinking about how the new healthcare law will affect your company?