New Jersey manufacturers grow their companies by offering paid apprenticeship programs and hiring people who have a desire to learn.
This topic took center stage at the New Jersey Manufacturing and Extension Program Manufacturing Day event during a breakout session on tips for recruiting, retaining and linking into underused talent.
Up to 3.5 million manufacturing jobs need to be filled nationally by 2025 yet only two million of those jobs will be filled. New Jersey is part of this demographic.
Paul Rettberg, apprentice programs manager with East Hanover-based precision stamper and plastic fabrication company Weiss-Aug, began working for the company in 1969. His employer provides an apprenticeship program.
“Apprenticeships are important for manufacturers,” Rettberg said. “Why? Companies are training their employers.”
Companies start apprenticeship programs because of talent. “We worked with the Department of Labor to develop our apprenticeship program,” Rettberg said. “Since 2015, I have received 1,500 resumes.”
Weiss-Aug spends $400,000 on its apprenticeship program. While this is a significant expense, Rettberg said the company would otherwise risk not lasting into the future. Weiss-Aug hires apprentices every year.
Nestor Sabogal, human resources manager at Perth Amboy-based Tropical Cheese, said his company is having a difficult time getting people to work. Tropical Cheese is applying to the state government for grants.
– Jeannette Hobson of Vistage International
“We pay for a lot of our workers to get their [commercial drivers’ licenses],” Sabogal said. “We train our people. One thing that I find out is to advertise in Spanish-language newspapers.”
Brian Gregov of AEPG Wealth Strategies said employers who offer medical benefits impact employees staying with their company.
“Most employees do not start thinking about their retirement plan until too late,” Gregov said. “How do you communicate your benefits to your employers?”
He heard about a person leaving a job for another job that pays 25 cents per hour more yet that person may not have factored medical and health benefits into that decision.
“Nine of 10 employees would think twice about taking a job if there was not a health plan or retirement plan in place,” Gregov said.
“Financial worries cause stress and has an impact on productivity,” he added.
Jeannette Hobson of Vistage International discussed development from the perspective of a company’s management team. Vistage trains chief executive officers who are leaving companies.
“What got you here will not get you there,” Hobson said. “We know that a majority of employees are not engaged. The number one reason workers leave is that they do not like their boss and they think their boss does not care about them. We know that most managers do not get leadership development until they have been in the job for 10 years. Today because of social media, word gets around about best places to work and best bosses to work for.”
“You change the culture from the top,” she said.
Hobson gave the example of a manufacturing company in New Jersey whose current CEO is the daughter of its founder. The CEO spent $150,000 on a trainer and the company has improved its revenue by 11 percent and the company has not had accidents in two years.