What Tesla’s Doing About the Skills Gap (and Notes You Should Take)
For years we’ve heard what sounded almost like Science Fiction stories about Tesla Motor’s new $5 billion Gigafactory, but it wasn’t until recently that those stories actually materialized into construction plans. Underway in Reno, the world leader in electric car production’s lithium ion battery factory is expected to be completed by 2020 and employ around 6,500 people.
As progress is being made on the project, Tesla is already starting to think about how it’s going to fill all of those jobs with skilled workers, one of the foremost challenges for businesses in America today. Doing so will be no easy task. Tesla announced it will be raising the average hourly wage to $25, but effectively sourcing and hiring the right people will undoubtedly require some innovative thinking by the company’s talent acquisition team.
In this post, we’ll inspect the hiring goals for Tesla’s new project and the broader issues with the lack of talent in America, as well as how companies should be approaching the skills gap from a strategic recruiting perspective.
Hiring 6,500 Skilled Workers At a Time When Job Vacancies Are Surging
The prospect of working for a company like Tesla is, of course, exciting to many people. And with a projected number of 6,500 jobs to fill, applications will be flying in. Though, the types of advanced manufacturing capabilities—next-generation industrial automation and robotics—that will be in use at the Gigafactory demand competencies which may go above and beyond that of the typical worker’s skillset.
One of the National Federation of Independent Business’ latest reports put the skills gap challenge into perspective. It showed that 14% of companies cited “labor quality” to be their biggest concern in February 2015. This was up from 11% a year ago and has been rising for years. If you look at reports more specific to the manufacturing sector, concerns around this issue are even more significant.
As Myles Udland wrote yesterday in Business Insider, this whole scenario highlights two of the biggest labor trends in America. He explained, “wage growth is coming, and companies can’t find enough qualified workers.”
At a time when job vacancies are also surging, addressing the skills gap is increasingly becoming an issue that’s poised to impact long-term business viability. In reality, raising the average hourly wage is a short-term fix to entice more skilled workers to apply, but one totally necessary to help recruiters do their job. Sustaining an increase in the relative skill-level of workers in America over the long-term is a more systemic issue.
Winning the Talent War Will Require More than Higher Wages
Tesla is addressing an issue that so many companies are facing today. The “skills gap” or the “talent war” or any other buzzword being used to explain this topic today all surround the issue of a rising demand for skilled workers in a time where supply is not keeping pace. The result is companies are willing to pay a premium for talent, but simply raising wages is not a panacea for coming out on top.
With more power shifting in the hands of skilled professionals, it will be companies that make efforts to modernize and optimize every aspect of their recruiting strategy that get talent through the door. In some cases, developing and executing on a winning recruiting strategy requires a complete transformation and change of mindset. In other cases, it requires simple tweaks and refinements. Most companies fall in the middle.
Recruiting organizations concerned with their ability to compete for top talent should be inspecting their performance and capability in the following four areas:
- Leadership and Culture: A sound recruiting strategy starts with high-level buy-in, and then support from a strong culture. It also requires the dedication of resources needed to get applications seen and seats filled (IT investments, change management, skills and competency development, etc.).
- Optimizing the Hiring Funnel: The hiring funnel is continuously changing and evolving—especially at the top. Recruiting strategies should include high-level goals for the hiring funnel, but also break down how processes and workflows will help achieve those goals.
- Next-Generation IT: Companies that can provide as close to a consumer-grade experience to applicants and recruiting professionals alike will be in the best position to win today’s talent war. Increasingly, this means going above and beyond the capabilities of their legacy ATS, leveraging next-generation, integrated tools with sleek design and functionality.
- Optimization: The best recruiting organizations are measuring everything that matters and working toward optimization. Leadership should make it a priority to develop a standardized, measureable set of metrics and key performance indicators so that processes can be continually refined and improved.
Tesla is no stranger to hiring skilled workers, but we’re willing to bet that the automotive giant’s talent acquisition team is thinking about more than just its wages for identifying, attracting, and engaging the best candidates amid today’s labor and economic conditions. If you’re interested in learning more about what it takes to build a market-leading recruiting strategy, read our new whitepaper, “A Comprehensive Guide to Winning the Talent War.”