Racing to find skilled workers

August 3, 2011

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If there's one topic that weaves its way into more articles and blog posts on thefabricator.com than almost any other, it's the dearth of skilled labor. Despite high unemployment, many manufacturers continue to struggle to find workers with the right skills. 

In his article "Fabricator finds path to skilled labor," my colleague, Senior Editor Tim Heston, described how Crow Corp., a metal fabrication company located in the Houston area, outsourced its hiring process and found that the benefits far outweigh the costs. 

Some companies, such as Hudson, N.H.-based Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Co. (GMFCO) are going the extra mile to find skilled workers.

GMFCO has recently taken to the oval track as a unique recruiting tool to attract welding help. More specifically, GMFCO and GoGreenRacing.net (GGR) have partnered to help the company reach out to a broader base of potential welders.

 GMFCO President Jack Gilchrist explained, "We chose to work with Go Green Racing because it's a New England based organization that—like GMFCO—is experiencing strong growth, attracts excellent talent, and is concerned about the environment." He continued, "In the past, we converted to a fabricating facility 100 percent powered by wind energy credits, making this involvement with GGR even more appropriate." 

With metal fabricating clients from around the world, Gilchrist said that sponsoring a car at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway seemed like a creative and potentially effective way to reach out to a large audience. He believes it to be a great opportunity to find skilled welders looking for jobs closely aligned with the precision and performance of the sport. He said, "A large part of the audience interested in racing is also interested in the high performance machinery that makes it possible. So naturally, it attracts quite a lot of talent that's highly sought after for [GMFCO's] industry."

The GGR #39 Ford Mustang is driven by Matt Frahm, who is racing with GMFCO as a sponsor in the NASCAR Nationwide series. The debut race was July 16 at NHMS for the running of the New England 200. GGR and Matt Frahm again boasted GMFCO on board the Ford Mustang at the O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis July 30.

It will be interesting to see if this initiative actually attracts the welders Gilchrist is seeking, both in terms of technical and soft skills. In his article, Tim quotes Edwin Trevino, Crow's principal recruiter at V.I.P. Staffing.  According to Trevino, identifying people who have the necessary skills isn't difficult. The skills are concrete and measurable. A part is fabricated within tolerance or it isn't. But evaluating the soft skills—personality, character, work ethic—isn't easy. 

Citing his own work history, Trevino said, "I had to recognize who was a team player and who wasn't. I had to be able to sit down with people and recognize who would go above and beyond, and who wouldn't." 

It takes a team to fabricate a product, not unlike the pit crews that keep race car drivers driving.

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Vicki Bell

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