If you were to ask a contractor in most any segment of the construction industry what their greatest business challenge is, you’d be hard pressed to find one who doesn’t mention attracting and retaining good employees near the top of their list. With record low unemployment levels in the U.S., it’s become a near-universal concern for companies around the country—one that is exacerbated in the sheet metal industry by an aging workforce, a national shortage of skilled trade workers and a general lack of public awareness about career opportunities within the industry.
In response, SMACNA announced an aggressive national workforce development campaign, designed to raise industry awareness and highlight career opportunities across the HVAC and sheet metal industries while supporting members in their recruitment efforts. IgniteYourCareer.com launched in early 2020 as the cornerstone of the initiative, targeting job seekers and young people who are exploring career options.
“We hear from members all the time who tell us that while business is booming, the challenge is having enough workers to meet that demand,” said Vince Sandusky, SMACNA’s Chief Executive Officer. “SMACNA is proud to play a leading role in addressing this challenge. Our ‘Ignite Your Career’ campaign is focused on not only helping to fill the pipeline of immediate job openings, but also encouraging the next generation of workers to consider our field—whether on the craft or non-craft side.”
“Thirty four percent of our workforce is now aged 50 or older, creating the perfect storm combining a great economy, record unemployment and an aging workforce,” said Jeff Henriksen, SMACNA’s Executive Director of Communications & Marketing. “Every chapter should take a close look at their workforce needs along with their JATC, and re-evaluate the impact that this aging trend will have on their workforce over the next five years. We want to make sure we have the best and brightest workforce possible, ready to fill in as senior managers retire.”
The Ignite Your Career website serves as an educational hub for visitors to learn about the diverse career paths and opportunities within the industry, meet real-life professionals working in jobs across the industry, and connect with resources—including local SMACNA chapters and skilled training centers—that can help them get started in the industry.
SMACNA has also established a social media presence for its Ignite Your Career campaign on Facebook (@IgniteURCareer), Instagram (@ignite_ur_career/), Twitter (@_IgniteURCareer) and YouTube (Ignite Your Career). Other features of SMACNA’s initiative include industry relations and collaboration with national, state, and local organizations to address specific workforce development needs. SMACNA will also be investing in audience and message research, advertising, and public relations efforts. New collateral, including infographics and videos spotlighting real people in real careers in the industry, are also available for member companies to share and use in their own recruitment.
“A critical component of this campaign will be our members’ involvement,” Sandusky said. “We encourage our members and the industry to follow our new social media handles and share the content we post there with their own company or personal pages. We’ll also be rolling out additional tools and resources for members to use in their own recruitment efforts. Empowering job seekers to pursue a career in sheet metal is something our entire industry can get behind.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a nine percent growth in jobs in the sheet metal industry by 2026, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the country.
For more information on SMACNA’s workforce efforts, visit IgniteYourCareer.com or contact Jeff Henriksen, SMACNA’s Executive Director of Communications & Marketing, at Jhenriksen@smacna.org.