In June, the U.S. economy reached a milestone – for the first time, there were more job openings than eligible applicants to fill them.
And, this isn’t expected to be a temporary situation.
As Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics stated, “business’ number one problem is finding qualified workers. At the current pace of job growth, this problem is set to get much worse.”
The economy has “bumped against the proverbial labor wall,” according to David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff. And, he expects inflation pressures to intensify” (Cox, CNBC.com). In fact, the Federal Reserve just announced a quarter-point interest rate hike last week.
Although there are growing shortages in many jobs, several categories are experiencing the greatest shortages, specifically:
- Retail trade
- Accommodations and food service
- Health care and social assistance
Coupled with a growing shortage among truck drivers, three of the six areas with the largest labor shortages encompass what’s commonly referred to as blue-collar jobs.
What can employers do?
Although much has been written about the need to identify future leaders and leadership potential, much less attention has been put on identifying potential among job candidates for the millions of blue-collar positions that are currently – and will be – open across the country. More specifically, the key is identifying various types of aptitude among job seekers.
Broadly speaking, “mechanical or technical aptitude” is a measure of a person’s “ability to understand and apply mechanical concepts and principles to solve problems” (Psychometric Institute). Specifically, mechanical aptitude and/or reasoning includes the understanding of such concepts as acceleration, gravity, friction, pressure, and kinetic and potential energy, along with the underlying features of levers, pulleys, screws, gears and springs.
What’s so important about mechanical aptitude/reasoning?
As the labor shortages increase among millions of blue-collar jobs, employers have begun to undertake more significant training efforts and/or programs in jobs like construction (i.e., carpenter, electrician, etc.), manufacturing process operator, maintenance mechanics, etc.
However, not everyone is able to successfully complete this training in a timely manner. That’s where aptitude comes in – those with higher mechanical aptitude and/or reasoning are much more likely to successfully complete a variety of technically-oriented training programs.
The Future of Filling Blue-Collar Jobs
For a number of years, E•A•S•I-Consult® has used a dual approach to identify the most promising employees for jobs, ranging from construction, aircraft engine and refrigeration manufacturing to machining and electrical maintenance. This approach combines attitude with aptitude.
Our attitude assessment includes capabilities such as Dependability, Adaptability, Teamwork, and Safety Orientation. The mechanical aptitude and/or reasoning includes understanding of concepts ranging from gravity, force, pressure and kinetic energy to basic electrical concepts and the use of common shop tools.
The results have been outstanding – those job applicants who demonstrate stronger attitudes, along with a solid understanding of mechanical and/or technical concepts, are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to succeed in these job training programs, then go on to become high-performing employees. In addition, they are less likely to be absent from work or quit their jobs.
Overall, this has resulted in millions of dollars in savings on recruiting, hiring and training machine operators, production workers and maintenance mechanics.
Our country’s workforce has undergone a massive change in the past generation. High school graduates are no longer prepared to step into a wide range of factory-type jobs. However, to maximize training success – and then success on the job – it is essential that employers assess their candidate’s aptitude, along with their attitude, in order to build a strong workforce.
Joseph Gier, Ph.D. is Vice President – Consulting Services at E•A•S•I-Consult® and is a licensed Psychologist. E•A•S•I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E•A•S•I-Consult offers online pre-employment testing to a wide range of companies, which targets numerous positions including many blue-collar jobs. In addition, E•A•S•I-Consult is the exclusive partner of Columbia University’s Dr. Warner Burke and the Burke Learning Agility Inventory™, which has been integrated into various solutions including identification of future leaders, leadership and individual assessment, leadership development, executive coaching, professional-level individual contributor assessment, and 360-degree feedback. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E•A•S•I-Consult, visit https://easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.