Editor’s Perspective

iapd resources for finding talent
by Susan Avery, CAE

APD has heard from you that attracting employees to the performance plastics industry is a challenge. To help, IAPD volunteers have been working on task forces designed to study issues our members are having in attracting, recruiting and retaining professional-level and skilled trades employees. One discovery made during this process is that companies look at hiring as an ongoing, consistent activity, rather than something that starts when a position needs to be filled and stops when a candidate is found. The work of the task forces is designed to help your company meet your hiring goals.

Workforce Development Task Force: Professional Positions

The Workforce Development Task Force for Professional Positions focused on sales, marketing, engineering, administrative and other office staff. They developed a framework for IAPD’s talent acquisition strategy that addresses:

  • Members’ existing and future workforce development needs.
  • Recommendations for where IAPD can provide the best value.
  • Resources to support your recruitment and promotional efforts.
  • Ways to best promote careers in the performance plastics industry.

The IAPD Board of Directors approved the following recommendations from the task force:

  1. A series of videos and other resources that include messaging, resources and tools that educate the potential workforce.
    1. The exciting applications, positive environmental benefits and scientific facts about performance plastics.
    2. The career potential in joining the performance plastics workforce.
    3. A view of what the manufacturing and distribution work environment looks like today.
  2. Tool kits for members starting from the beginning of the process, which include new ways to find employees, promoting their companies as employers, etc.
Susan Avery
The videos and other resources developed will be distributed to members to use in their own workforce development outreach, websites, social media platforms and marketing pieces. IAPD will promote via its channels as well.

The video project was put on hold due to travel restrictions due to COVID; filming is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022. The videos will also include content targeted toward skilled trades. The videos will be edited into standalone clips for targeted use.

Workforce Development Task Force: Skilled Trades
The second Workforce Development Task Force for Skilled Trades, is working on addressing:

  • IAPD members’ existing and future workforce development needs.
  • Recommendations for where IAPD can provide the best value.
  • Resources to support members’ recruitment and promotional efforts.
  • Ways to best promote skilled trade careers in the performance plastics industry.

The ongoing pandemic and government stimulus have compounded existing challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled trades. Further almost ALL industries are experiencing labor shortages, thus requiring everyone to compete for the same scarce talent.

Shared challenges

To understand how pervasive the challenges are in staffing the warehouses and shop floors, the task force identified the common challenges. The following have been divided into challenges that are (1) specific to COVID-19, (2) those that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic but may still be ongoing and (3) the challenges that were in place prior to COVID-19 and are expected to continue.

COVID-related challenges

  • High unemployment benefits — Hopefully as unemployment benefits return to normal levels, more people will be looking for work.
  • New requirement for employers with >100 workers to have their workforce either fully vaccinated or be tested for COVID on a weekly basis. (Pending outcome of court challenges and OSHA implementation)

Both COVID and ongoing challenges

  • Locating candidates — COVID caused a pause in job fairs, but they will return. However, these candidates are not on LinkedIn.
  • Transportation — If employees rely on Uber or Lyft, COVID caused a driver shortage and higher rates. Transportation could still be an issue.
  • Childcare — COVID caused schools and daycare centers to close; may still be an issue.

Ongoing challenges

  • Wage competition — People leaving for a slightly higher hourly wage.
  • Other perks — Companies may offer excellent benefits, but employees either don’t care or they are only looking at the hourly wage.
  • Drug testing — Especially in states that legalized recreational marijuana.
  • Poaching talent — From within and from other industries.
  • Working conditions — Plants may not be climate-controlled.
  • Competing with recognizable brands — Such as Walmart or Amazon.
  • Negative perception of plastics — Overcome media and public perception of plastics.
  • Inability to offer flexible schedules — Unlike office jobs, distribution and manufacturing is site based.
  • Parental influence — They want their kids to do something more/better.
  • Physical labor — Is a job that requires physical labor a deterrent?
  • Old-school thinking about hiring — such as requiring interviewing multiple candidates for a position, even if there is someone available who is a good fit.
Best practices checklist
The IAPD Workforce Development Task Force for Skilled Trades developed a checklist of best practices designed to help IAPD members find and recruit employees for the skilled trades within their companies. In this context, skilled trades refer to positions such as warehouse worker, CNC programmer, machine operator, electrician, mechanic, etc.

While developing the checklist, the task force discussed the many ways in which finding talent can be everyone’s job. Therefore, the checklist includes tips for what hiring managers can do to help with the talent acquisition process, what the human resources professionals can do, tips for reevaluating your hiring process, retention tips, as well as some general best practices to help you find and keep talent. Click on the QR code to download the best practices list.