Fishing for Talent
PeopleReady Skilled Trades hooks skilled tradespersons with promising career opportunities
In today’s tight labor market, attracting highly qualified workers is akin to fishing in a sea swarming with hungry sharks, all ravenous for the fresh talent bobbing before them. While other industries may offer enticing bait, the construction profession often hooks individuals seeking careers that are stimulating, intrinsically rewarding, offer good pay and job stability, and provide opportunities for upward advancement.
For the team at PeopleReady Skilled Trades, reeling in motivated jobseekers with elevating professional opportunities is no recreational pastime—it’s the core mission that gives this specialized staffing agency its competitive edge.
Matching Talent with the Right Opportunity
PeopleReady Skilled Trades is a subsidiary of TrueBlue, Inc., a global workforce solutions organization founded in 1989 that aligns clients with precisely matched workers across 70 countries. Through its three vertically integrated lines of business TrueBlue helps clients improve their growth and performance by serving as a comprehensive provider of staffing solutions, workforce management services, and recruitment process outsourcing. Last year, the corporation provided work to approximately 724,000 people across all its brands.
PeopleReady Skilled Trades focuses specifically on connecting skilled tradespeople and general laborers with employers in a variety of construction markets: residential, commercial, institutional, marine, power and energy, oil and gas, and industrial. Supported by a network of over 640 branch offices across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, the company specializes in filling on-demand positions for occupations ranging from carpenter, welder, plumber, electrician and pipefitter to concrete setter, HVAC technician, sheet metal fabricator/installer and more.
One of PeopleReady Skilled Trades’ newest locations opened in March 2018 in Cleveland. With an active employee roster of nearly 200 workers, this branch covers territories statewide as well as in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky when needed. The busy office is run by Nicole Foster, Construction Account Manager, and Shirley Wilburn, Operations/Trade Recruiter.
“We’ve stayed very busy meeting the skilled staffing needs of our clients, filling both temporary assignments as well as long-term, temp-to-hire positions,” Foster says. “We are equally committed to matching experienced tradespersons with jobs that help to elevate their careers and take their professional development to the next level.”
In 2019, the Ohio branch filled roughly 1,000 positions: 40% skilled labor, 30% carpenters, 20% electricians and 10% specialty roles. Prospects for this year look equally strong given the need to build, upgrade and maintain Ohio infrastructure to keep pace with continued population growth, particularly in the three major metros of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. PeopleReady Skilled Trades has already lined up skilled workers for several ongoing and future projects, including the new Anthology of Mayfield Heights senior living community being built by EMJ Corporation, multiple new Raising Cane’s restaurants in the Cleveland area, and renovations of several Cincinnati properties owned by Quail Creek Investment Group.
The staffing specialists have also provided personnel for a variety of noteworthy past projects. Some examples are: a new Menards home improvement store in Mentor utilizing electrical contracting services from RJ Martin Electric; the South Court Senior Villas in Medina developed by Miller-Valentine Group; a Topgolf location in Independence constructed by ARCO/Murray; and electrical work on the historic Halle Building in Cleveland provided by Shannon Electric. The Ohio team has many other key clients, including IRG Realty Advisors, Merritt, Fiorilli Construction, Carney Contracting Services, and Painesville, Ohio-based Brock Construction Company.
Strategies for Success
Meeting the diverse needs of general contracting and subcontracting clients is no easy feat. However, Foster and Wilburn have developed an effective strategy to streamline their screening, hiring and placement processes. “Constant communication is our No. 1 strategy to efficiently and successfully place the right people with the right projects,” Foster says. Great synergy also bolsters their productivity. “We both work really hard, we’re great multitaskers, and we work really well together,” she adds.
For Foster, her day-to-day responsibilities of interacting with clients and field employees aligns with her personal passion for people. “We practice a hands-on approach to making thoughtful placements with consistent follow up. Every day I am out on job sites building relationships with local contractors, out-of-town contractors and subcontractors.
I also travel to projects to make sure our field employees are working safely and have all the materials they need,” she says. Wilburn spends the majority of her time in the office managing human resources matters and ensuring employees are dispatched appropriately. She also handles recruiting, a multifaceted responsibility consisting of placing ads on online job boards and social media, reading resumes and vetting the best skilled talent for the PeopleReady Skilled Trades workforce.
“The thing I like most about my job is meeting different people. Everybody’s worked on different types of projects and they have different skill sets. It’s really exciting to place them in a position that fits them—especially if they get hired on full time. It’s nice to help someone become successful,” Wilburn says.
The Blue Book Network has also been a valuable resource in providing local industry connections and guidance. Foster says, “Our local Blue Book reps have been great at making introductions and pointing us in the direction of prospective clients in our regional markets. They’re very knowledgeable and you can tell they really take pride in what they do. I’ve also attended Blue Book’s networking events to make professional connections and build relationships.”
Goals for 2020 and Beyond
According to Foster, the main goal this year is simple: continue attracting and retaining high-quality talent. But as simple as it sounds, it’s also one of the greatest challenges in any staffing agency because many industries are vying for workers in the same labor pool. (The analogy of sharks hunting for fresh talent applies here.)
To reel in the real “trophy” talent, PeopleReady Skilled Trades focuses on ways to keep employees engaged and motivated to be high performers in the workplace. Providing incentives through an employee recognition program—Respect the Craft—has proven to be one of the company’s most effective tools.
“We take pride in rewarding high-performing employees who show up to work on time and display valued qualities and behaviors that set them apart in a positive way,” Foster shares. Through Respect the Craft, all field employees who are actively working have the opportunity to earn this recognition. There’s one Respect the Craft winner per branch each month who receives a prize; past winners have received flat screen televisions, premium tool kits and more.
“Overall, this program has been a great way to foster respect for being a craftsperson—and it demonstrates PeopleReady Skilled Trades’ appreciation for all that these workers do for our customers,” Foster adds.
At the end of the day, safety is the top priority for PeopleReady Skilled Trades. The company goes to great lengths to ensure workers are protected on the job so they can go home safely to their families each day. It’s not just the right thing to do—it’s another expression of value and appreciation for the PeopleReady Skilled Trades workforce.
“We believe preventing injuries and property damage is vital for the well-being of our field employees,” Foster says. “As a company we consistently practice the ‘right match dispatch’ philosophy, which means we do not dispatch or send somebody out on assignment on a first come, first serve basis. Rather, we match the skills and past work experiences of our craftspeople with the specific needs of our clients. This not only benefits our customers by providing them with the services they require for a project, but more importantly, this also helps ensure that our tradespeople are placed on a job that matches their specific skills and experience. As a result of that proper placement, it prevents injury.”
Looking to the future, the PeopleReady Skilled Trades team in Ohio plans to step up its game in industry leadership by being more active in trade associations, such as the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Women in Construction. “We always encourage our field employees to get involved in these types of professional organizations, too, as it shows leadership and ambition,” Wilburn says.
A Crusade for the Trades
Generation T is another important cause to PeopleReady Skilled Trades, a founding member of this national movement to change public perceptions of the skilled trades. Led by home improvement retailer Lowe’s, this initiative seeks to drive enrollment in skilled trades education and build a pipeline of skilled tradespersons to offset the anticipated gap of 3 million jobs by 2028. “The intention is to give people the confidence to pursue careers that are meaningful, creative or flexible and provide mastery with ample opportunities for growth. We also want to influence our education system and bring back the trades to encourage the future’s workforce,” Foster says.
According to Wilburn, this “crusade for the trades” has had much success on the East Coast and is steadily gaining traction in other regions across the country. Currently, she and Foster are actively seeking opportunities to make Generation T a prime focus for the Ohio construction community.
“This movement is bringing greater awareness of the skilled worker shortage impacting industries and economies worldwide, and we look forward to championing the Generation T mission through partnerships with our local industry contacts as well as school districts,” Wilburn says.
Sharing the value of the skilled trades with others is a natural fit for the staffing experts at PeopleReady Skilled Trades, who want to see the talent pipeline filled with driven, industrious, passionate workers. For more information about the Generation T movement, visit www.WeAreGenerationT.com.