How a Contingent Workforce Helps Fix the Blue-Collar Worker Shortage

September 2, 2020

The blue-collar worker shortage has long been a problem for the American economy. Despite the attention the issue has received, there have been few successful solutions.

The move toward a more contingent workforce is happening now. The question isn’t whether it will grow, but by how much it will grow. This shift will lead to greater pressure on businesses to identify and hire contingent workers who can get the job done.

Thirty-seven percent of blue-collar-heavy companies reported a measurable adverse impact of the worker shortage on the company’s profitability versus just 9 percent of white-collar-heavy companies, according to a study by The Conference Board.

Gaining access to better talent

The U.S. workforce shortage—especially for blue-collar workers—is expected to continue through at least 2030, according to The Conference Board.

Factors driving the blue-collar workforce shortage include:

The baby boomer exodus

Dismal growth in the working-age population

Disappointing recovery in overall labor force participation

Men without a college degree are less likely to work

Large increase in disability rates

More young adults are avoiding trades, pursuing college instead

Young adults are much less likely to be in the labor force

By being open to contingent workers, businesses tap into talent that they might not otherwise gain access to, especially those who may have specific knowledge and training that could be beneficial to their operations. Many businesses are realizing that the quickest and most efficient way to get specialized talent is to hire them as contingent workers. Depending on future needs, these workers can eventually be transitioned into full-time positions.

Offering greater flexibility

Flexible working arrangements can also be an asset for a new generation of workers. They may have been recently separated from full-time employment or are reconsidering their career options. People often work on a part-time or temporary basis so that they can pursue other interests or gain experience in their chosen career, with an eye on pursuing a full-time position.

Primary reasons temporary workers choose to be temporary workers

As a method of finding a regular/permanent job or because I thought it might lead to a regular/permanent position, 49%

To supplement income while looking for a regular/permanent position, 11%

To supplement income while not looking for a regular/permanent position, 14%

To learn new skills/get work experience, 13%

Other, 13%

Source: Staffing Industry Analysts

Expanding business operations

The current environment has provided businesses of every size and sector ample opportunity to reconsider their roles in the continued economic recovery. Businesses will focus on diversifying in order to mitigate risk: Some of them may be eager to grow their project base; others may be looking into different markets. If businesses are considering expanding their geographic footprint or service offerings, contingent workers may be a tremendous asset during this important transition. With contingent workers, businesses can find workers with the specialized skills that they need for a particular project, without having to make a long-term commitment.

Staying agile in uncertain times

Businesses are increasingly looking for flexibility and scalability to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy and to take advantage of new opportunities. As the business landscape continues to change, the makeup of their workforce will need to adjust as well. A temporary workforce allows for flexibility to adjust as needed, accommodating changes in the industry and financial circumstances that businesses will face in the future.

While every business has its own unique needs based on industry, location and other factors, contingent workers can bridge an important gap as leaders map out their plan of action. As we see more people turn to contingent work as they adapt to the current economic climate, having the ability to find workers and in the future is imperative.  

In order to find the contingent workers you need, when you need them, a staffing agency can help enormously and keep things moving along smoothly. If you’re looking for a staffing partner to help you, contact PeopleReady Skilled Trades today.

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