The past several years have not been easy for companies that employ blue-collar workers. The COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on many blue-collar industries, leading to a labor shortage that some experts predict will last through the end of the decade. Nearly 40 percent of companies that have been affected by the shortage say it is affecting their profitability.
The shortage has not been any easier on blue-collar employees themselves, either, with roughly 40 percent saying they have experienced a heavier workload since the pandemic. In addition, 73 percent of blue-collar workers say the labor shortage has affected their work-life balance.
Those looking for solutions to the problems caused by the shortage — both employers and employees — often turn to Jason Lamonica for help. Jason is the COO and a Partner at Spec On The Job, the nation’s premier staffing company focused on serving blue-collar industries. Jason’s clients know that he and the staff at Spec On The Job consistently and reliably deliver opportunities.
“When I joined the Spec On The Job team eight years ago, the main thing that attracted me was the ‘anything-is-possible’ attitude that the team projected,” Jason explains. “Our CEO Jude Tallman is always willing to explore new possibilities. ‘I don’t think it will work’ is not something we say. Rather, we strive to figure out how we can get there.”
Remaining adaptable in the face of change
Jason has seen the staffing industry change significantly during the past eight years. One of the most notable changes is the growing reliance on technology. Being mobile savvy has become necessary for success in staffing.
“The smartphone has truly changed the work that we do in recruiting,” Jason shares. “Both employers and employees have come to rely on it for making connections. It truly has been amazing to watch it develop.”
Jason has also seen competition for competent employees increase significantly over the years.
“Competition in job hunting and recruiting are fierce, especially with the labor shortage that we are facing as we enter 2023,” Jason reports. “Small businesses alone account for over 30 million employers in the US. That means there are a lot of employers competing for workers and wanting to attract and retain top talent.”
Jason’s position affords him a unique opportunity to see what works when it comes to attracting top talent in the blue-collar space. When it comes to finding talent, Jason recommends that companies network and partner with trade schools and community colleges. In this way, employers can funnel top graduates into their companies as soon as they complete their academic or vocational programs.
Blue-collar employment in a post-pandemic world
For companies struggling to keep talent, Jason suggests changing the narrative.
“There is a stereotype that comes to mind for many people when they think about blue-collar workers,” Jason explains. “Many people perceive them as inferior to white-collar workers, believing blue-collar workers are less intelligent than white-collar workers because they have less education. However, I like to point out that education and intelligence are not the same thing.”
Jason points out that many blue-collar workers are not only capable of doing their jobs, but also capable of growing their skills and doing more for their companies. He advises that companies wanting to attract and retain top talent provide additional training for employees and give opportunities for career advancement. This makes the employee feel valued, giving them one more reason to stay with the company.
For job seekers looking to become more hirable, Jason says honesty is the key. Employers want to know what you can do and how committed you are to the job.
“Be honest with the employer about what your long-term goals are,” Jason advises, “but also be willing to learn and take direction. It’s all right to not know everything on the first day of the job. Being teachable is just as important as being knowledgeable.”
Overall, Jason says those engaged in the hiring process need patience.
“The hiring and job search journeys can seem endless for both parties,” Jason says. “It’s common for those on the hunt to feel frustrated. When that happens, a staffing company can help. We bring a level of expertise and experience that reduces a lot of the frustration. Our goal is to make sure that clients have no more openings and candidates have nothing but positive feedback about their new position.”
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Photo provided by the author.