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Cultivating the future workforce in the skilled crafts sector

This year’s Day of Crafts and Trades, an annual event to showcase the German crafts sector, focused on recruiting new workforce. Will this make a difference to an increasingly tense situation in the recruitment market?

Here are a number of suggestions on how to modernise, and add to the appeal of working in, a crafts business.

Despite rising numbers of training contracts concluded German crafts businesses are still left with some 15,000 training vacancies. To remedy this situation a variety of initiatives have been started to attract the interest of young people in applying for a job in the crafts sector. But not only in Germany investment into qualifying training schemes for young people is the most promising way to ensure continuity in the crafts sector. For a better understanding of the situation it may be helpful to ask a few questions about recruitment.

What are the reasons for an increasing demand for new workforce?

Economic growth: Increased workload calls for additional workforce. But qualified staff is hard to find, so it makes sense for a crafts business to train its own future employees. This means fierce competition between businesses.

Market consolidation: Larger businesses tend to attract larger contracts. As a result, several smaller businesses seek to merge into larger companies. This, however, makes business procedures more complex and requires higher coordination capacities. Here, the introduction of new electronic tools can help to process orders and complaints more efficiently.

Succession planning: To prevent the loss of businesses and jobs retiring bosses need assistance in finding qualified staff to replace them.

As well as bosses skilled workers need to be replaced when they retire or leave the company. Finding the right successors, putting them to the test, qualifying and grooming them takes a lot of time. That is why it is very important for a crafts business to promote junior employees and make sure they feel committed to the business.

How can a crafts business come out on top of the struggle for new talents?

Managers of crafts businesses need to think about what may appeal to young people apart from attractive salaries and working times.

A popular non-cash benefit is to let the employee use the company car for both business and private purposes. Recording data on, and accounting for, private trips, however, is extremely time-consuming and no benefit at all. Doing it in line with tax provisions is simple but expensive. Using a driver’s logbook for a complete documentation of all trips is an economical and convenient alternative. Even more convenient for both the employee and the company is the use of an electronic GPS log because the automatic recording of data saves a lot of time.

The opportunity to use state-of-the-art technology equipment may be another incentive for a young future employee. Mobile apps, smartphones, and tablets can help to minimise boring tasks like work documentation while enhancing work efficiency and quality. The company benefits from the cost-efficiency such equipment provides.

Crafts businesses can reduce operating costs also by making the most of their own potential. Experience shows that telematic solutions can increase productivity by 5 up to 20 per cent. They help to determine possible excess cost factors: Are there too many workers at one individual work site? Is the daily working capacity fully exploited? Which vehicle is closest to the next customer location? Is the complaint data accurate? If employees are up-to-date on the whereabouts of the company’s vehicles they can react fast and make decisions without spending too much time on the telephone. Work becomes more productive, dispatchers have more time for customers. And ultimately, demand for new workforce may prove to be lower than expected.

What telematics solutions are available?

“Before offering any solution it is essential to take time and discuss with each customer the individual requirements in their business”, says Dr Giuliano Visintini, managing director of ubinam, a tracking company based in Munich. Tried and tested solutions include:

Fleet management: Real-time tracking of vehicles and recording of logbooks, progress and fleet reports. Billing is made easier by evaluating data individually for each work site.

The electronic logbook: Time- and cost-efficient recording of business, and private, trip data, convenient for both the employee and the company. Trip data recording can be integrated into the normal fleet management.

Mobile applications: A variety of apps designed to make work easier for both the dispatch department and the field force. Timekeeping, communication, and navigation equipment can be integrated into one single terminal box.

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