“When you’re looking to build your organization, you’ve got to start with your staff first,” says Andy Smith, DRC’s talent management specialist.
The vast majority of DRC’s 400- plus employees don’t have backgrounds in manufacturing, he adds. The company doesn’t focus on expertise; instead, it selects candidates who will be self-motivated.
“You need to have an employee base that is looking to further develop themselves and create their career path within the company,” Smith says.
In some cases, DRC provides financial support, like tuition reimbursement, to help employees grow; in others, it offers training to ease the transition into a new role, as well as opportunities to advance—a process known as upskilling.
About three-quarters of respondents to the Manufacturing Institute’s 2019 survey said upskilling workers helped to improve employee productivity. Manufacturers are set to spend $26.2 billion on upskilling and other training initiatives for new and existing employees in 2020 to combat worker shortages, according to the organization.
DRC’s talent management strategy has evolved over the years, but it can trace its start to 2015, when the company began receiving support through Minnesota’s Dual-Training Pipeline grant program, designed to foster job creation in the state.
DRC has also joined Summit Academy OIC, a Minneapolis-area nonprofit that provides skilled job training for students. The Summit- Design Ready Controls initiative is an entry-level program designed to provide training in the electrical fabrication field, with instruction conducted via a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. The 20-week program concludes with a two-week internship at Design Ready Controls, which doubles in part as a job interview. Sixteen students per year are anticipated to be hired at Design Ready Controls as point to point wirers, power wirers or control box builders.
The number of electrical and electronics engineering jobs—which include electrical technicians—is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leading to more than 10,000 openings nationwide over the next decade.
Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus, DRC was able to continue its talent development programs by moving interviews, training, tours and even job fairs online or over the phone. Ultimately, it hired 40 employees, who trained onsite in frequently cleaned rooms with limited personnel.
During the nationally recognized Manufacturing Month in October, DRC’s facilities in Minnesota and Virginia are partnering with area schools to raise awareness of manufacturing careers. Previously, the events were only accessible to students in their local areas. Now that they’ve moved online, students across the U.S. can join, too.
“The right talent is out there, but we’ve just got to find creative ways to find them,” Smith says.