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Digital technology can make trade jobs safer and more appealing to younger generations who grew up with smartphones. Companies who are digitally relevant is critical to recruiting and retaining younger workers trade jobs, Writes Robin Fleming, CEO of Anvl.

It is no secret that skilled trade industries are struggling to find employees. According to a survey by the Manpower Group, for the 6th consecutive year, trade positions are the hardest to fill globally, yet there is a clear need and great opportunity for workers. Younger generations are often pushed to obtain a college degree rather than pursue a career in a skilled trade, and those looking for a different path in skilled trades are asking, “What can you do for me?” rather than, “What can I do for you?” When recruiting a generation where perks and benefits are viewed as important differentiators, how can your company grab the attention of the younger generation and stand out to fill these open positions?

An increasingly important way for companies to stand out is by leveraging digital technology – which younger workers expect with any job. Real-time access to information, communication, and immediate feedback is an expected attribute of everyday life for younger workers. More than 96 percent of younger workers have smartphones that they use for a variety of reasons in their everyday life. These same younger workers have advanced electronics and technology in their homes, are avid video gamers, use sensors, and technologies in their hobbies, and expect real-time access to information and people. Unsurprisingly, they will expect nothing less on the job.

Here are some types of digital technology solutions that can help companies be more relevant to younger workers:

  • Workforce Safety – Workplace health and safety is a major factor when considering a job in skilled trades. The CDC found that workers ages 15-19 had work-related injuries more than two times that of workers 25 and older. Reasons for the higher rate of injuries with younger workers can be attributed to the type of job and also to a lack of experience and safety training. Digital safety technology can help reduce the risk of injury and death to skilled trade workers by delivering safety processes, information, and training when it’s needed on the job at appropriate points. Leveraging mobile technology appropriately for safety is a smart way to engage the younger workforce to identify and document safety risks, hazards, and information as it happens in-the-moment. Rich data and information collected and shared with smart solutions can better inform workers when it matters most and also leaves behind critical information for the next workers. Veteran workers and supervisors can engage with coachable moments, leading to more knowledgeable workers.

    Digital safety technology that’s efficient and delivers a real-time experience can give companies in any industry an extra edge with younger workers. Companies who focus more on top-down compliance with trying to catch and correct someone when they do something wrong may find a negative environment where workers believe doing the right thing may actually get you in trouble. For instance, if you are not rewarded for taking the time to document and identify risks, to stop a job when warranted, or to get the proper protective equipment, it sends a clear message to workers. However, there’s a big difference when workers feel they are able to do the right thing to be safe, and that they can give feedback, receive a response, and participate in the safety improvement process. Even OSHA explains the best practices for successful safety programs include worker inclusion and participation, which allows employees to share their thoughts and concerns. This positive motivation drives engagement and a sense of pride which helps promote a positive safety culture and can save lives and dollars. Innovative safety technology solutions can help companies to engage and support workers in real-time and create tighter connections with workers, supervisors and upper management.

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