Reversing the Brain Drain What You Can Do to Attract and Retain Local Talent

Recent surveys of manufacturers,  healthcare industries and other growth sectors consistently identify one of their top three priorities as workforce development. Two trends are affecting workforce development, retirement and technology. Our area is not unique in the amount of attrition based on retirements and the amount of technologically driven careers which are leading us into the future. Organizations — regardless of size—recognize that a highly skilled, qualified workforce is critical to their success. Whether manufacturers are seeking to develop new products, enter new markets, or improve overall productivity, their workforce will be key to their ability to remain competitive and achieve their goals. Likewise, healthcare needs to be sure the funnel is being filled with new nurses, laboratory technicians, physicians, analysts and technology specialists in hundreds of fields.

Have you looked at your upcoming workforce gaps and put in place any programs to introduce opportunities to our students? One of the best and most efficient ways to build a future workforce is to engage students at all levels. More than 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day and this rate is expected to continue for 19 years. What can be done to maintain our organizational infrastructure?

Companies who are successful at attracting and retaining talented people realize they must be pro-active and become part of their workforce solution.

Although technology is providing for endless streams of content, many of today’s students are not making time or using their initiative to bring themselves an awareness to career opportunities which await them. They don’t know the opportunities or the educational requirements.

To overcome that obstacle, smart manufacturers and healthcare organizations are actively engaging with educational institutions in the community in an effort to inform students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents about the many opportunities they have available.

There has been a great deal of work in the schools to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. That is a great push strategy, but a pull strategy added to this program is bound to increase the success rate and provide greater opportunity for all.

Starting with middle school age students, these organizations are sending young scientists, engineers, technicians, nurses and physicians to visit local classrooms to talk with students about their work.

Students, teachers and parents are also invited to tour the inside of plants and facilities they likely drive by on a daily basis, but have no idea of what is actually taking place inside. They tour the facility, are introduced to the workers in the company and see for themselves what takes place at that facility, but nothing beats a hands on experience.

Many manufacturers are sponsoring teams for the FIRST Robotics or robot competitions giving students valuable,
hands-on experience and also the opportunity to work as team
members with engineers, technicians, and scientists to solve
technical challenges.

On the healthcare front, Halifax Health is working with all the Volusia County High School health academies and programs to offer tours of the various areas of the hospital, providing the opportunity to see the workings of an emergency room, the dissection of a colon biopsy and even a visit to the helipad where trauma patients land by helicopter, sometimes as many as four
a day.

Bethune-Cookman University has worked with Florida Hospital to serve two purposes. The first purpose is to provide public health students the real world experience of working with a patient with a chronic illness to help educate them on patient communication and rapport. The result of this work is hopefully a better, more efficient, care path for residents of our area.

What can you do to provide hands on experiences to students to reach that passion point within them which will guide them to a meaningful career? In the manufacturing example that passion point is building, coding and watching the vision come to life through teamwork and perseverance.

In addition, high school students can be provided shadowing opportunities that could lead to summer, work-based learning experiences and possibly part-time employment during the school year. The students learn the company culture, its products, processes, and customers and can contribute to the overall company goals. Many students who start out as part-time workers in high school often progress to achieve consistently higher company positions, becoming supervisors, managers,
and executives.

Creating, attracting and retaining an educated and passionate workforce is key to having your organization live beyond this generation and thrive into the next.