Mike Rowe will not fill a single vacancy in an equipment department. He is certainly raising awareness at a national level, but construction is generally a local operation.
Recruitment, therefore, must be local.
A contractor in the heart of Packer Country has forged significant relationships within its community in order to fill the inevitable vacancies resulting from a workforce heading to retirement. It takes investment, both of time and resources, but without it, “the company’s going to wither away.”
That’s how Dave Walsh, VP, Leadership & Organizational Development, justifies the effort Miron Construction Co. has put toward finding qualified workers for its future. Miron has multiple methods of attacking the shortage in its communities, many of which involve direct involvement in existing activities as well as creating its own opportunities.
Its latest initiative introduces women to the company and the profession. “Build Like a Girl” will bring into Miron’s corporate offices 30 girls from 7th to 10th grade.
“It’s an untapped market,” Walsh says. “Here in Wisconsin, we’re proud of both genders’ ability to put in a good day’s work.” At this age, however, students are easily embarrassed in front of the other gender, he says, which is why they are doing a separate event.
“The girls will have the opportunity to hear what it sees and feels like to do the work,” Walsh says. “We’re providing information on salary and benefits in these strong, good positions.”
Miron also offers opportunities for high school classes to tour job sites. “We found great success with high schools that are committed to career development and tech ed,” Walsh says. Tying the tour to an alumni who works for Miron brings immediate connection, too. Classes will talk to someone who graduated from their school and will share the realities of the job.
Finally, Miron involves itself in local events, including KidsBuildingWisconsin and Quarry Quest. The aim of both events is to give children—and their parents—exposure to the construction industry, including opportunities to interact with heavy equipment on site.
Miron’s secret sauce, says Walsh, is its relationships with local educators and career advisors. “We’re builders, not HR data analytics [experts],” he says.
Fleet professionals cannot afford to wait for Mike Rowe, but must take action of their own at the community level. Find a school, career-development organization, or community event and make some contact with the experts there. Meet them for lunch and offer expertise and experience as a bridge to career in construction. Do not wait for someone else to solve the problem; the first step can lead to results and bring others in the company along the same path.
“Start dipping your toe right away,” Walsh says. “The longer you wait, the more you’re going to miss.”