Workforce Development

An SBC Industry News poll earlier this year engaged our readers in a conversation about giving tours to student groups that resulted in some common themes we thought were worth exploring. The April article explored the primary commonality among those component manufacturers (CMs) that take the time to engage with students: They all simply believe it’s the right thing to do. As we continue to delve into this topic, a second important trait to explore about CMs who host student tours is they all have a willingness to try to engage with local educators. 

“Internships are a perfect way for us to get to know an individual and for the individual to see what a career in the component manufacturing industry would be like. If both sides come to the conclusion that it’s a good fit, it’s a win-win situation and an opportunity for both parties to be successful,” says Mike Petrina, plant manager at Wisconsin Building Supply. “The internship exposes them to a lot of different projects and you can figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are in designing and determine where their passion lies.”

One of the best ways to ensure your remote designers feel like an integral part of the team is to make an effort to get everyone physically in the same place from time to time. Dan Morris, truss design manager at Apex in Jacksonville, Florida, notes that while they have regular interactions over the phone or through online meetings, they’ve also learned that “you need to have face-to-face time” to keep the team unified.

The first common theme among those CMs who make an effort to engage with students on a regular basis is a clear recognition that connecting with the next generation is important to solving current workforce development issues in this industry. Simply put, “it’s the right thing to do,” says David Mitchell at Engineered Building Design, L.C. in Washington, Iowa.

As hiring remote truss designers becomes increasingly common for the component manufacturing industry, ensuring those same designers don’t feel like they’re alone on an island (even if they actually are) needs to be an important factor in your plan. Finding strategies to help all of your employees feel valued and included isn’t a new concept, but shifting the approach for your remote team members can go a long way to establish a solid foundation in your design department.

The Baltimore Carpentry Task Force brings students together to explore construction careers

Past interns are a great fit to attract students. Recently Big C Lumber held a plant tour for 39 students from eight different schools that are in the Michigan Construction Trades course offered through the St. Joseph County Board. After the tour there were at least ten students that showed interest in working at Big C Lumber. That’s a quarter of the students in the tour!

The primary mission of SBC Magazine is to connect with component manufacturers (CMs) from across the country and share their best practices and lessons learned. Of course, the biggest challenge in that effort is identifying the timely struggles of one group of CMs and then finding the CM who has developed a best practice to solve it.

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