Solidarity Sunday: The Nature and Nurture of Filling Job Calls
By the nature of technology at our disposal, we can reach, recruit, and talk to the right people.
By the nature of story-telling techniques, we can put the right message together.
The list of leads (i.e. people interested enough in our respective trades to give us their personal contact info) increases by the month. Most of the locals we work with have generated over a thousand leads in a growing database of potential recruits. We are seeing a record number of apprentices enroll.
Yet, the list of unfilled job calls remains long in all trades. Contractors (and even the international union offices) are pounding on the locals to find qualified tradespeople to fill those jobs. In most cases we're looking to organize those who can fill calls and go to work immediately. It speaks well of the opportunities that exist in the building trades, but it also speaks to the "needle in the haystack" of finding skilled people and putting them to work in a union environment. So what gives?
For every seven (7) people who retire in the construction industry, only one (1) comes in. So statistically speaking, when 50 people retire or pass, only 7 people are there to replace them. While the man-power numbers alone can be alarming, the most impactful thing about this is those 7 no longer have access to the institutional knowledge that would be passed on by the 50 that left. As an industry, not only are we getting less people, but we're getting less experience to leverage. Yes, we need to find people now, but we also need to be around 20, 50, and 100 years from now. We must nurture them into our culture. This goes for our recruiting efforts as well. It takes a complementary strategy of Nature and Nurture.
The silver lining here is that we are built on the principle of apprenticeship and stewardship, and the trades unions are uniquely positioned to address this problem. The journeyman/apprentice dynamic is one that cannot be matched by non-union. It is the very definition of nurture.
Similarly in recruiting and organizing, the more we tell that story, stay in touch and nurture those leads, the more we cultivate a healthy union culture. Moreover, every new referral should leave a call-out with a good understanding of what the union is, why it is important to them, and what we're all about. It takes vision, strategy, planning, and continuous communication. It takes nature and nurture. We can do this for you.
Nurturing through Great Story Telling
Alexander McGee was eager to tell his tale so that others might see themselves in his story, and we had the pleasure to tell it. Alex is the embodiment of what it means to transform. He would tell you that the union saved his life by showing him a pathway to prosperity that he couldn't see before. As a proud 3rd year apprentice, you can tell by the look in his eyes what the purpose, power, and path of the JATC at IBEW Local 136 has done for him. There are stories like his in your local union too. Let us help you tell them.