Solving the Problem of Finding Qualified Workers
January 20, 2015
A Conversation with Sam Dowdy, Sr.
S&D Plumbing in Taylor Texas
Sam Dowdy, Sr. has his pick of qualified tech hires for the next three years. We learned about Sam's efforts in his school district and at the state legislative house in the Winter 2015 issue of the Foundation's FOCUS newsletter. Here are some additional tips from Sam.
Changing the School System
"We were able to get Texas state school funding approved for use in apprentice training programs. So now the local school officials can't use lack of funding as an excuse to not offer training for the trades. Our legislators are using the model of what we have set up here in our school district to push for the same opportunities across the entire state.
We are also making progress on getting approval for kids to graduate with a Tradesman License in hand. All of that happened because of us contractors showing up at the school board meetings and at the state house to tell our story. It takes time, but that's how to get things done - somebody has to show up and have those conversations.
Check With Your State Workforce Commision
We recently won an 'Employer of Excellence' award from the Texas Workforce Commision. Some of the other winners this year were Walmart, Amazon.com and Chevron. What put us in the same category as those giants? We built a relationship with the folks at the commision to learn everything we could do to make full use of the programs they offer.
We hire summer interns to help kids get experience in a real workplace. We've hired mentally and physically challenged interns who could handle office work like filing. The Workforce Commission wants opportunities for these folks, so they will help by providing a trained supervisor for these workers if needed. Some internships qualify for wage grants from the state, which reduces our costs for their hours.
Check With Your Local Military Bases
The soldiers coming off duty are in high demand, but we are finding ways to bring them in. For the ones who had work experiences in the service that matches what we do in plumbing, we try to get their service time counted as hours toward their licensing requirements. That gives the soldiers a way to not start at the bottom based on the time and work they have already put in.
We are also happy to take the soldiers with no experience - we always need help with labor and these folks are already disciplined, hard working and ready to work hard.
Find the Opportunities
I guess the point is, don't sit still & wait for people to come looking for a job with you. There are plenty of programs that are looking to connect employers with people you won't find with a 'Help Wanted' ad. Find those opportunities and work to create some of your own too."
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