For employers the number one challenge continues to be workforce development. In an area with record low unemployment, how and where should employers look to recruit, and how can employers create a strategy to attract the right talent?

Workforce challenges are not specific to some industries. They are shared by all workplaces. By sharing strategies, employers learn unique ways to improve and be more creative in their recruitment techniques.

One local and national employer who is breaking the mold is The Boeing Company. Boeing has set themselves apart by creating a strategic long-term recruitment plan. Their 15-year strategy includes educating youth, partnering with local colleges, and community involvement.

Educate Youth — Starting with preschoolers, Boeing is on a mission to educate about manufacturing jobs. Boeing offers tours of their factories to kids, showing them the production process, 3D printers, and aircraft assembly. Their long-term plan includes follow-up with targeted tours for 5th and 8th graders. Boeing’s overall goals are to (1) teach kids that manufacturing jobs are not dirty, dark, or dingy, (2) showcase the broad career options within manufacturing, (3) communicate the importance of math and sciences, and (4) help high school students match their continued education opportunities to careers they are interested in. Exposing kids early to manufacturing can impact their education and career paths while preparing them to make informed decisions as they enter the corporate world.

Partner with Colleges — Through an essential partnership with Helena College, Boeing continues to expose students to manufacturing opportunities and education. Boeing employees frequent Helena College courses, answering questions and providing helpful resources to students. Helena College students have the opportunity to tour the Boeing factory. Outside the classroom, Boeing staff serves on the aviation and manufacturing advisory boards at the college. Through these roles Boeing staff have helped determine the programming and coursework needed to prepare students for corporate jobs, including soft skills such as teamwork, work ethic, and communication. The partnership with Helena College is a crucial piece of Boeing’s workforce development in the Helena area.

Become a Community Leader — Despite their international presence and expansive resources, Boeing integrates into communities where factories are located. Boeing understands that when a community is strong workforces and workplaces are strong. In Helena, Boeing Performance Management Advisor, Jessica Hays has become involved in the Helena Wins Program helping to attract, develop, and retain talent for the entire region. By serving on the committee Jessica is bringing years of experience as well as Boeing’s creative long-term strategies to help develop and implement the Helena Wins Program.

Long-term strategies that complement near term strategies are important, but may not seem feasible to a smaller employer who is both the director, HR manager, and recruiter. Start small with steps that make sense for your capacity. What type of employee does your company want and need now and in 15 years? Be creative and find partnerships to educate and expose potential employees to your opportunities. Get involved and join the Helena Wins conversation. Utilize free resources like those available on the North American Strategy for Competitiveness website. Remember every company struggles with workforce development in some capacity but by working together and sharing professional resources employers can create a community that attracts and retains new talent.

Article written by Anna Strange, LLC on contract with MBAC.