Finding and recruiting workers was the top challenge on everyone’s list at the SMACNA chapters I visited this year. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as the market is moving upward many contractors struggle hiring enough of the right people for the job.
To help, SMACNA’s newly approved Strategic Plan addresses this issue and directs SMACNA National to “assist members in attracting and retaining critical human resources including craft/bargaining workforce and overhead/non-bargaining workforce.”
As part of this manpower effort, SMACNA will partner with its chapters to affiliate with colleges and universities offering construction and or HVAC related curricula in order to expose students to the benefits of a career in the HVAC and sheet metal industry.
SMACNA is reaching out to other organizations with student chapters to learn from their experiences. Among the resources SMACNA will offer is a guideline covering all the steps involved in organizing a new SMACNA student chapter, plus a list of potential benefits that will attract student members.
Several SMACNA chapters are already actively recruiting interns for their member companies and adding a student chapter may be a logical extension of that program. SMACNA is looking at these chapters to share their experiences and best practices.
For example, the Bay Area SMACNA Chapter has been working with students in their intern program (placing about 50 per year) for about 18 years. They also offer scholarships and, if the student works as a paid intern during the summer, they are automatically awarded an extra 50 percent to their scholarship. The chapter works closely with several area universities with construction curricula.
SMACNA Western Washington has a variety of internship and recruiting programs, too. They focus on recruiting college graduates into the mechanical and sheet metal industry using college nights, networking events, scholarships, community projects, and a young executives committee.
Forming and supporting student chapters is one important way to help SMACNA members find and recruit talented young people into their companies so they keep their competitive advantage.