If you are like most employers, you are struggling to fill many of your open positions. With unemployment in the 3 percent range with high turnover, that’s no surprise. But is there really a shortage of qualified employees? For nearly 10 years, we have experienced a strong economy. However, employee wages generally have not kept pace. For companies that have not kept wages and benefits competitive, there may indeed be a shortage.
Let’s briefly look at one industry, regional airlines, to learn how they are dealing with a shortage of qualified employees (pilots). While many Baby Boomers are choosing to work beyond age 65 and are delaying retirement, airline pilots must retire by age 65. These retirements have created a true pilot shortage.
One sure sign of a shortage of qualified applicants is a rapid increase in total rewards to attract candidates. So it’s no surprise that that first-year pilot pay has increased approximately 50 percent in the last five years. What else have they done to attract pilots? Following are several examples: attractive signing bonuses are now the norm; industry experience pay credit and bonuses; tuition reimbursement; and generous medical, retirement, and profit-sharing benefits.
In addition to pay and benefits, airlines are reaching far upstream in the recruiting pipeline to influence future candidates to join their companies later. For example, once future candidates reach certain milestones in their flight training, regional airlines will give these “cadets” an employee number, an active pilot as a mentor, and a guaranteed job interview.
Your company isn’t an airline, but what can you learn from them to find qualified candidates for your hard-to-fill positions? Are your total rewards competitive? If applicants aren’t coming to you, are you going to them (sourcing)? Do you have internship, mentor, and training programs to develop future employees? Don’t give up! Great candidates are still available! Contact Employers Council for guidance in any of these areas.