Combating the Skilled Labor Shortage

( Jennifer Shike, Farm Journal's PORK )

By Beth Hales,

If you employ skilled trade professionals, you don’t need anyone to tell you there’s a shortage of candidates. You’ve likely been swapping experienced employees back and forth with your competitors routinely. It’s a miracle to find new talent with the experience needed. Agribusinesses report that the most difficult level to recruit for was hourly/non-exempt staff. The top reason for recruiting difficulty was applicants do not have required skills. gathered human resource professionals from agricultural employers for an in-person discussion on the skilled trade shortage. From this discussion, we identified five strategies used to keep the candidates flowing. 

The tactics below can serve as a quick checklist; if you are finding it challenging to attract people to your skilled positions, it’s time to make sure you’re developing programs like the ones below. 

Six Ways to Attract Skilled Trade Talent to Your Organization:

1.  Employee referral bonuses:  Agribusinesses report in the HR Review that employee referrals are the top method for attracting prospective applicants. 
2.  Training initiatives tied to a managers’ pay and intentional development paths for current employees to reduce turnover - develop a mentoring/buddy program.

3.  Tuition reimbursement/scholarships/apprenticeship programs to create a pipeline of fresh talent. Training and development programs are one of the top motivational approaches used by ag employers. 

4.  Offer flexible hours. Nearly 40% of agribusinesses have adopted a flexible staffing approach according to’s data. 

5.  Create a strong and distinct culture – agribusinesses report that the top way they maintain or improve company culture is by providing opportunities for employees to use their skills and abilities, followed by employee recognition/appreciation programs. 

6.  Local high school involvement and recruiting, including time set aside to bring in local teachers to shadow managers. 

There’s no magic bullet, but when you’re in the crisis mode of needing specific talent right away, it’s hard to take the time out to strategize and formulate an intentional plan. Some of these items can be immediate (employee referral bonus), while others take more preparation and buy-in (potential for flexible hours and intentional culture development). Making the time to create a new program or refresh one that lost momentum can give you the edge you need! surveys agribusinesses regarding human resource best practices and emerging trends in the annual HR Review. To see what other agribusinesses are doing, check out the Agribusiness HR Review online. 

If your company is searching for skilled trade talent, check out the online recruitment options with 

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