Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA
Field Service Talent Acquisition - Challenges and Solutions
Brought to you by WBR Insights
The field service industry is facing a talent crisis. As the Baby Boomer generation hits retirement age, there is a need to attract more Millennials and GenZers into the industry, train them up, and then retain them by showing what a rewarding and fulfilling career field service can offer.
However, there are several hurdles standing in the way of this mission. The changing nature of the job market, the varying priorities of the up-and-coming workforce, and the evolution of the field service industry itself are all conspiring to make the acquisition and retention of new and young technicians something of an uphill struggle.
As always, understanding is the key to finding solutions, so let's dive into some of the factors driving the field service talent acquisition crisis.
Causes of the Field Service Talent Shortage
As we've already touched on, the aging workforce is one of the main reasons for the talent crisis in field service. In the manufacturing industry alone, the most recent data available suggests this factor will lead to almost two-and-a-half million people retiring over the next five years. When offset against the number of young people coming into the industry, we are looking at a talent deficit of almost two million employees.
2018 data also shows that 50% of large companies (defined as companies with 250+ employees) and 45% of mid-sized companies (those with between 50 and 250 employees) reported having difficulties filling roles, and 70 percent of field service organizations state that, unless things significantly change, they will become burdened by a retiring workforce over the next five years.
Another factor affecting the US labor market right now is that the talent pool has shrunk considerably in recent years. The unemployment rate in the US has been steadily falling since 2010 and now sits at just 3.9 percent - the lowest in nearly 30 years. It should be noted that the unemployment figure only accounts for the proportion of US citizens who are presently unemployed and are actively seeking employment, meaning one should also take into account those who are not, such as those who are disabled, long-term sick, or suffer from behavioral issues like drug addiction.
Whatever the reasons - positive or negative - the present unemployment rate is only compounding the difficulty field service brands are having finding the talent they need to bridge the gap.
Finally, a major issue is one of image. Young people at the time of choosing a career path simply aren't seeing any appeal in field service. GenZers and the younger end of the Millennial generation have very different expectations for their career choices. From the ethical stance of the companies they work for, to the kind of work they'll be expected to do, to job satisfaction, young people are looking for more from their career than simple financial compensation and/or status.
With all these factors conspiring to negatively impact the recruitment and retention of new talent, fresh strategies are required to tackle the problem.
Field Service Acquisition and Retention
The solution to the talent crisis comes down to one simple factor - the field service industry needs to move with the times and make itself an attractive prospect for younger workers.
Thankfully, the industry is already well on its way in one regard - digital transformation. GenZers are sometimes referred to as digital natives, meaning that they are the first generation to grow up with digital technology available throughout the entirety of their lives. This means they are often naturally drawn to careers that can offer them technology-based experiences.
With the Internet of Things, big data, augmented reality, and many other avenues of digital tech already starting to find their way into the field service industry, the sector should naturally become more appealing to younger people. However, the onus is on field service brands to make sure they get out there and promote the fact.
Get in on the ground floor by attending university career fairs and taking examples of all the amazing tech your brand is deploying with you. Make sure your stands are run by young, passionate, and engaging people, and you will stand a far better chance of reaching the next generation of field service engineers where they are.
The field service talent crisis is a massive industry concern. However, by embracing digital transformation and associated technology, and by promoting its use in the places where young people are most likely to engage with your brand, you can start to persuade more young people to consider a career in this exciting industry.
Talent acquisition is set to be a hot topic at Field Service Medical 2020, taking place in February at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.