Employment services for job seekers and employers in Oregon

Bridging the Blue Collar Gap

Our Experts | Katie Merickel, Bend Branch Manager

In today’s job market, with unemployment rates at an all time low, the need for skilled talent remains in high demand. In many cases, companies are seeking out skilled, experienced workers in all trades that can jump right into work – unfortunately, that is becoming more difficult to find. Luckily, there are ways to bridge the blue collar gap  through internships, mentoring and on-the-job training.

bridging the blue collar gap

In my role as a branch manager, I work with a lot of residential and commercial construction companies as well as other trades. I go to work sites and get my hands dirty to learn and understand all aspects of the requirements and work that my employees will be doing. I have become the connoisseur of construction at our staffing firm, and have worked hard to build partnerships with these clients learning their business from the inside out.

When You Can’t Find Skilled Workers, Build Them

While I do my best to send qualified workers, it isn’t always easy or feasible. So, I began inquiring about internships, on-the-job training and mentorships. And… my clients are receptive to the idea!  I wanted to be able to send over eager, motivated workers that might not readily have the skills but could be easily trained. Many stellar, entry-level candidates, including some that are still in high school, have no experience in these trades but would love an opportunity to learn.

With internships, on-the-job training and mentoring, you can start a rookie in a basic role and let them learn the ropes to slowly progress into more skilled and challenging positions. From roofers, framers, concrete, masons and more, I have been able to send entry-level workers to my clients to receive on-the-job, relevant training and mentorship.

Benefits of Internships, On-the-Job Training and Mentoring

There are perks of hiring this type of worker that needs training. First of all, you can pay entry-level wages, allowing you to keep costs low. It also helps that you can shape an unskilled worker into the exact employee you want because they have no preconceived notions about the work, bad habits or methods of their own. You get to build this employee from the ground up, making them who and what you need.

If you are worried about time constraints with training and production lulls, there is a solution for that too! Many of my clients have taken up training a new worker on a set schedule, such as Tuesdays and Thursdays, allowing them ample time to buckle down the other days of the workweek. This ensures that they are hitting their goals yet investing in their new talent to be ready for the next phase or project gaining momentum each week.

bridging the blue collar gap

Even students, between the ages of 16 and 18, can intern during their spring and summer breaks from school. They are restricted from operating power tools, being on roofs, excavating and doing highly skilled tasks, but you better believe they can help set up a work site, gather materials, clean up and do demo. The best perk of these workers? You can empower them with safety knowledge, construction site awareness and tricks of the trade from the start, and they’ll be better prepared and more of an asset. They will be ready for full time, skilled work by the time they graduate and be able to hit the ground running.

Reap the ROI

If you haven’t considered taking on novice, unskilled workers through internships, on-the-job training and mentorships to bridge the blue collar gap, now is the time. It takes some investment, but there is a big return on your investment when done right. From cost savings to shaping your own skilled worker, it’s a win-win for both your company and the employee who enters the workforce as a skilled laborer or tradesman.

If you are ready to make the leap and help shape our future workers, Selectemp can assist you in finding the workers you need, or consult you on training rookies. Contact us today at (541) 749-7931.


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