Minnesota Employers Struggling to Find Skilled Laborers

We know from listening to our clients that Minnesota employers have had a difficult time finding skilled laborers to fill job openings. Although Minnesota added 7,400 jobs in October – up substantially from 1,100 new jobs in August – companies still need help recruiting the employees they need.

The sectors that created new jobs include leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing; and construction. Leisure and hospitality saw the biggest boost, with 4,900 added jobs.

While these gains are good for job seekers, they aren’t good for companies. Without a reliable pool of skilled workers, businesses have been unable to create new jobs, hurting the state’s economic growth. While the number of new jobs has increased since the summer, Minnesota trails behind economic growth in other states.

Inability to find skilled workers is a top complaint from Minnesota companies across sectors. Companies are struggling to replace baby boomers upon retirement. When these workers retire, they take with them decades of knowledge about a particular industry and/or company. The more skill or training required, the harder it is for companies to fill these vacant roles.

The construction industry has been hit hard by the skilled labor shortage. In a survey by Associated General Contractors (AGC), 92 percent of Minnesota employers reported difficulty filling jobs for some or all hourly and salaried positions. Nearly half believe it will continue to become harder to hire over the next year.

Creating a pipeline of skilled workers

Some companies are working to train new and existing employees for more skilled and technical positions. The state government created the PIPELINE Program offers grants designed to help businesses find, train and retain skilled workers.

However, some training programs have proven unreliable. The AGC survey also reports that businesses find four in 10 workers coming out of technical programs to be poorly prepared, and that half only had “fair” training.

Another way that businesses are working to handle the gap is by turning to automation. Instead of hiring more employees, they are purchasing more equipment to increase productivity. While this helps in the short-term, it could harm how future workers are trained for skilled jobs.

Attracting and retaining skilled workers

While the state remains in a talent crisis, your business needs to impress skilled candidates so that they want to work for – and remain working for – your business.

Employees are looking for more than just wages to attract them to a job. Benefits like health care, retirement, tuition reimbursement and daycare will help meet If you want your business to stand out from your competitors, listen to their needs and consider how you can address them.

Many companies are finding success training employees themselves rather than waiting for them to complete a technical program. Young and mid-career employees who are eager to learn and/or have leadership experience would be excellent for an in-house training program. Offering opportunities for a promotion and job development will make your company more attractive and make employees feel more appreciated.

If you’re interested in how you can attract more skilled candidates to your business, we’re here to help. Contact us today so we can discuss your hiring needs.

How to Make Your Company Appealing to Minnesota’s Blue-Collar Workers

The United States is currently experiencing a blue-collar labor shortage, and Minnesota companies are feeling its effects.

Across all industries, there are currently more open positions than there are job seekers. Economists predict Minnesota will need more than 3 million workers by 2022 to keep up with the state’s economic growth but will likely fall short based on the current population. The crunch will hit industries reliant upon blue-collar workers especially hard.

There are a few reasons why we’re in the midst of a blue-collar job shortage. Baby boomers are approaching or past retirement age, meaning the largest living generation is no longer participating in the workforce in the same numbers as the previous decade. Many of today’s young workers opted for four-year colleges and are pursuing jobs in professional or public services, meaning there’s no incoming workforce to replace retirees.

How can you attract more candidates to your company’s blue-collar jobs and retain your current workers? Promoting learning opportunities and job security is key, but there are many factors that go into a blue-collar worker’s employment decision.

Attracting blue-collar workers to job openings

Blue-collar workers are looking for the same qualities in a good job that any job seeker wants. They want to apply for a position that offers:

  • • A competitive starting pay rate with opportunities for regular raises
  • • Medical, retirement and other benefits to supplement pay and protect employees in case they are unable to work
  • • Job security with reasonable protections from layoffs and a path that would easily allow their skills to translate elsewhere

One proven way to recruit new workers is through apprenticeships. In Minnesota, apprenticeships are on the rise, with 11,500 people participating in a program in 2017. The most common industry for apprenticeships is construction, but they are also a great tool for the manufacturing, technology, healthcare and agricultural fields. Apprenticeships allow you to train more people in your industry and create a direct pipeline for new employees.

Incentivizing blue-collar workers to remain in their jobs

If you’ve attracted great employees with the benefits above, you want to make sure you keep them happy with a productive, supportive workplace. Blue-collar workers tend to remain in their jobs or with their employer’s thanks to:

  • • A great work environment where employees enjoy their coworkers and the work that they do
  • • A schedule that allows workers a healthy work-life balance and flexibility when needed
  • • The opportunity to learn more skills that will allow the employee to advance at the company and/or take on new roles

To the second point, innovative shift scheduling will encourage current employees to take more second and third shifts and help attract more applicants to these positions. Attractive shift differentials, like paying an extra $1.25 an hour for less popular shifts, will help fill any staffing gaps.

Most importantly, workers want the opportunity to grow their careers. Bring knowledgeable blue-collar workers into the decision-making process. Offer opportunities for continuing education on middle-skill and highly skilled jobs. Work to promote the excellent work your employees do both within the company and to external media. Showing prospective and current employees you care about their growth will help you avoid a job shortage.

If you’re looking for hiring solutions to staff blue-collar jobs at your Minnesota company, Award Staffing is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about recruiting top talent.

How to Find Great Employees in the Minnesota Market

It can be tough to find great employees in general; this is especially amplified when in a skills-gap market. There are a few specific strategies you can use, however, to help you succeed.

Use Social Media-

Social media is a great way to find candidates in a skills-gap market. The networking effect extends your reach to candidates. Make sure you post a dedicated job posting with lots of details about the duties, salary, and location, so you sort out the serious applicants from the non-serious applicants. 


Similar to social media, word-of-mouth is a great way to extend your company’s reach.   When using word-of-mouth, however, it’s very important that you talk to the correct people. When needing a new employee, get the word out with your current employees or other respected professionals in your industry.

Hire a Staffing Agency-

The best way to find new employees in a skills-gap market is to hire a staffing agency. Staffing agencies have large databases of reputable recruits who are willing to start work at a moment’s notice. They also maintain a consistent database.

If you’re looking to hire new employees but don’t know where to start, contact Award Staffing. We will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs. We will also be able to help you find employees who are willing to commit to your company long-term as opposed to a short-term opportunity.



Want to learn more about how Award Staffing can help your organization with your staffing and employment needs? Start by providing our team with a few pieces of information about yourself, and we will take care of the rest.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Faster Isn’t Always Better for Finding Minnesota Workers

As a business owner in need of temp workers, you have many options – from local independent staffing agencies to national chains. Choosing the best one for your business can be challenging, and this isn’t a good time for trial and error. Often, it’s easy to fall into the ‘fast is best’ trap but pause a moment and consider your ultimate goal: Engaging qualified temp staff to support your current team in peak seasons, complete unexpected orders or time-sensitive projects, and fill temporary vacancies, enabling your business to continue forward.

Meeting your goal with no or minimal glitches requires thoroughly-screened, well-trained, qualified temps who understand their roles and have a great attitude. This is no small feat, and hence it is crucial to choose an agency you can depend upon to do it right – and within legal guidelines.

Why Finding Quality Employees Matters

Take, for example, background checks. On the one hand, there are industries where background checks are not only prudent but also are required by law, such as education, healthcare, government positions, and some financial and IT. On the other hand, there are also laws that protect a potential candidate’s privacy, as well as one that guards against discrimination. It is vital that the agency you partner with understands both the federal laws, state laws, and local regulations. An agency that takes a little more time to ensure they ‘get it right’ will save your company time and cost in the end.

Another area where shortcuts can hinder more than help is drug screening. In the state of Minnesota, drug testing can only be done by a certified laboratory, with documentation showing the chain of custody. In addition, positive tests must be confirmed, and confidentiality must be kept. Despite this, some staffing agencies cut corners by performing drug tests within their office. Some agencies are counting on the fact that many employees and potential employees are not aware of the laws. Others are simply unaware of the laws. But no matter how innocent a situation is, should repercussions arise, they may affect not only the staffing company but also their client.

Questions to Ask Your Staffing Provider

There are other examples, of course, but the key is choosing a staffing agency you can trust with confidence to be thorough, knowledgeable, and legally compliant is crucial to your peace of mind, long-term costs, and company success. Questions to ask and points to consider, include the following:

  • Does a staffing agency specializing in your industry? what is their primary focus?
  • How many years of experience does the staffing agency have? Even if they have opened their doors in the last five years, what is the level of their experience in recruitment?
  • Do they hire recruiters who have a degree, certification, or at least a good deal of knowledge and experience in the industry for which they recruit?
  • What is their standard recruitment process? Does it include thorough screening techniques? Testing? Training? Legally-compliant drug screenings and background checks?
  • What do their clients say about them? Are current clients well satisfied with the employees the agency sends to them?
  • Do they offer any kind of guarantees? What happens if a temp employee doesn’t fulfill the requirements?

Why Finding Staff Fast isn’t Best

There are more items to consider when choosing a staffing agency, but these will give you a solid basis. In the end, partnering with a staffing firm that takes the time to offer expert, legally-compliant services result in a high ROI. Sure, they may not be as “fast” as an agency, which places “immediate response” higher on the list than safety, legal background checks and drug screening, sufficient training, and discovering top clients via personal interview; but they will deliver quality and save both time and expense in the big picture.

If you need help hiring temp workers, contact Award Staffing. We will figure out your company’s exact needs and the time frame in which the temp workers would be needed. Then, we will match you with hard workers, compatible with your company needs.



Want to learn more about how Award Staffing can help your organization with your staffing and employment needs? Start by providing our team with a few pieces of information about yourself, and we will take care of the rest.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.