How Commercial Field Service Companies Can Attract Tomorrow’s Workforce

One of the biggest challenges facing field service organizations today is the shortage of skilled labor. Learn how technology can help mitigate the challenge.

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    One of the single biggest challenges facing field service organizations today is the shortage of skilled labor. Technology can help mitigate the challenge, however, by helping field service companies attract, train, and retain skilled workers. We recently considered five ways technology can help frame the future of field service organizations in a new eBook. In this blog series, we’ll take a brief look at each of those five levers, starting with how commercial field service companies can attract tomorrow’s workforce.

    Where we’re at and how we got here

    While it’s easy to point to the pandemic as the cause, the shortage began much earlier. Fewer young adults are joining the trades. High school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor’s degree that high-paying skilled trade jobs — requiring shorter and less expensive training — go unfilled.

    The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the nation’s skilled workforce skews older. One analysis found that 40% of the skilled trades workforce in the U.S. are over 45, with nearly half of those over the age of 55. Only 9% of workers are aged 19-24.

    That makes Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, the workforce of the future. And they’re digital natives. They’ve never known a world without the internet. Attracting and keeping Gen Z will require service companies to prioritize technology at every level of the operation. Paperwork tickets aren’t going to fly with this crowd.

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    How technology can propel us forward

    While an organization may have invested in ERP, CRM, and job costing applications that are primarily used by office personnel, to attract and keep a Gen Z workforce in the field, companies will need to equip them with technology tools as well. (We look at more of these tools in the eBook.)

    For their part, field service companies are getting creative in their efforts to increase the skilled talent pool. Some are launching their own “universities” where they augment union training with software skills like scheduling, estimating and productivity tools like Excel. In addition, many are investing in virtual reality (VR) training courses that provide immersive learning opportunities in ways that younger workers in particular, can relate to.

    However, service providers take care to ensure that the technologies they introduce don’t frustrate or overwhelm technicians. One recent survey found that 50% of technicians on average find their tools and technology difficult to use. Investments in training and retraining will be necessary to help workers master the tools.

    Going forward, the industry may best mitigate the labor shortage by carefully incorporating technology into every aspect of the business as a way to attract and keep talent and optimize the productivity of every worker. Download our new eBook, The Future of Commercial Field Service Companies, to learn more.

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