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The Future Of Technicians

What advice do you have for the future recruitment of technicians, as the millennial generation does not seem to have much aspiration for these types of jobs?

 – Kimberli Lasyone, Vice President of Human Resources
                                                                                  Barloworld Handling (Charlotte, NC)

 

Richard Donnelly

Richard Donnelly

Richard Donnelly: We have been very successful at recruiting technicians from the military, technical schools and high schools in rural areas. These individuals enjoy working with their hands, fixing equipment using the latest computer software and diagnostic equipment. What is critical to recruiting the millennial generation is to show them there is a career and an opportunity for advancement in being a technician. Does your company have a career path that shows the technician how he or she can advance to a master technician or service manager? Some of our technicians have become our best product support representatives. Once they realize there are career opportunities and the sky is the limit, you will have a better chance of attracting and retaining the millennials. 

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I forwarded your question to our corporate recruiter, Walt Warren, who says: “First, stop referring to technician positions as jobs and call them careers. Second, market your company—not only your products, but culture and the benefits that come from working with your company. Third, educate those who do not understand. Visit high schools, community colleges, universities and job fairs to grab their attention and educate them. I compare it to fishing. One day you catch nothing, and the next you catch everything. It all depends on the bait, and the bait is what you have to offer potential employees. Lastly, I believe in training. If you can’t find the perfect candidate, then make the perfect candidate. I don’t believe there is a lack of interest in being a technician; I just think we have to be more creative in our recruiting approach.”

Jerry Weidmann

Jerry Weidmann

Jerry Weidmann: Our strategy has been to work with local technical schools. Our technical training manager and human resources manager meet with local technical schools and provide information on careers in material handling. They meet with students, and we have hired apprentices. The long-term challenge will become much greater as our workforce is aging.

Duncan Murphy

Duncan Murphy

Duncan Murphy: Do not restrict yourself to looking at too narrow of an age group for future techs. Each successive generation is healthier and living and working longer if they are doing something they enjoy. Twenty-five good working years remain for today’s middle-aged employees, and technicians are paid well.

As far as attracting younger potential techs, you need to send the right message to the right places. Several distributors have relationships with technical schools in their area. Many help develop a curriculum and donate a lift truck to the school to use for a specific class. By doing so, they get to be first in line with the placement office of the school. Consider what the tech of the future might be doing. Look at how much their role has changed in the last five years. Units break down less often, a computer is the primary tool used, and there is a greater need for tech interaction with the customer to manage their fleet of trucks. Frame your job openings with descriptions such as: “Do you like to fix things using a computer? Do you like to build relationships? Are you good with your hands as well as your brain?” Find some way to present the job as it will evolve in the next five to ten years, and state your company’s dedication to training to keep them on the cutting edge of the industry. The training piece by itself, if communicated, could be your biggest attraction as you recruit. Every talented person wants continuous skills improvement. Make your presentation exotic and use today’s tools for communication to get the message out.

Steve Strifler

Steve Strifler

Steve Strifler: We only have about 25 technicians and do not work on lift trucks. Our technicians are mechanical and electrical. We only post jobs with online job search services. I continue to be amazed by the number of applicants we receive with each posting. Most of our technicians are in their 30s or 40s and have significant experience in their area. We have never purposely sought to hire individuals who would be considered “youthful,” though we have no practice of not looking for them either.

The MHEDA Journal features a question-and-answer column in each issue. The Board of Directors shares its knowledge and expertise by responding to questions posed by Distributor members. If you have a question for the Winter 2011 issue, please contact MHEDA by phone at 847-680-3500, by fax at 847-362-6989 or by e-mail at connect@mheda.org. Distributors who submit questions and the responding Board members have agreed to have their names published. If you would like to ask the Board a question and have the participating directors respond directly and confidentially to you, please indicate your preference for privacy when you submit your question.

 

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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