If the U.S. economy continues to grow at 3% per year — the consistent average since 1948 — the nation's workforce must increase by 58 million employees over the next three decades to maintain the same rate of productivity.
Yet if the current population trend continues, the number of workers will increase by only 23 million, creating a labor shortage of 35 million workers. Most of these projected shortages are expected to involve workers with specific skills. According to the Employment Policy Foundation, a systemic labor shortage is transforming the workplace, but labor shortages are certainly not new to the home improvement industry.
Many members of Certified Contractors Network have been hiring Hispanics as a way to fill the quality labor gap. They report that Hispanics earn high scores for work quality and ethics.
But where do you begin? My suggestion: Put an ad in the the local Spanish newspaper and list the phone number of a bilingual answering service that will steer them through the hiring process.
Still looking? Go to a priest or minister in that community and inform them of the opportunities within your company. Seek out whatever government-funded training or employment programs exist. All these will give you an edge in hiring Hispanics.
Offer your Hispanic employees English classes and pay a bonus to those who take the course. Offering English classes will build loyalty to your company from Spanish-speaking employees. It will also help you develop bilingual managers, foremen, project managers, and estimators who can bridge the language gap between customers and employees. Don't assume your Hispanic laborers are only low-skilled workers. They will rise to your expectations. Be prepared to print your company documents in English and Spanish. As your Hispanic employees move into middle management, this will be useful. —Richard Kaller once owned a network of five home improvement companies and is a former director of the National Roofing Contractors Association. He operates Certified Contractors Network (www.contractors.net), a training and educational organization.