— The U.S. Department of Labor’s recent numbers show that
unemployment rates are holding firm at 3.7 percent, a nearly
50-year low. If you’re an employer, you don’t have to be told
what this means: it’s tough to find great talent. Many
businesses are having trouble hiring skilled and available
workers, according to a report by the National Federation of
know that competitive benefits play an important role in a total
package offered to employees. Studies indicate that nearly three
quarters of companies offer benefits that go beyond the normal
health and financial benefit products that are standard in
workplaces. Forward thinking companies are looking for ways to
attract new employees and that means increasing access to
education and training.
experts believe investing in employee development is a short-term
expense for businesses that understand the value of well-trained
and educated personnel. “Many of our member companies, including
the vast majority of our member manufacturers, offer tuition
reimbursement for their employees. When we bring students and
educators to companies in the manufacturing, health care,
construction/skilled trades and IT industries through our
Schools2Skills and Careers Uncovered programs, countless companies
we have visited talk about tuition reimbursement as a benefit,”
says Amanda Payne, vice president of public policy for Waukesha
County Business Alliance.
Oven in East Troy is one of those manufacturers. The company,
which employs about 160, offers a tuition reimbursement program to
its fulltime employees. “An employee must first work at
Wisconsin Oven for a year and then, for approved courses, we will
pay up to $5,250 per year toward books and tuition. In exchange,
the employee agrees to continue employment with Wisconsin Oven for
a period of time,” says Kelli Stimely, director
of human resources for TPS/Wisconsin Oven.
invest in training because it’s smart, says Payne. “In a
survey we sent out to all our member companies in the fall of
2017, 68 percent of companies said that employee retention drives
their investment in training, while 49 percent said employee
attraction is behind their investment in training.” In the same
survey, many companies said their investment in training pays off
in increased productivity and a higher quality of work.
Metal Parts, Inc. also reimburses employees for job-related
coursework that they successfully complete. The Waukesha company
also makes training for manufacturing or job-related skills
available to its 130 employees at all levels, says Corryn
Manderfield, who works in Human Resources.
an employee wants to advance in their career in manufacturing with
us at Wisconsin Metal Parts, but doesn’t have the required
skills, we try to do our part to help. It all depends upon where
the employee wants to go. If we have an open spot for someone, but
they need some additional help to get there, we will try to
accommodate that person,” said Manderfield.
on the Job
way for businesses to find appropriate employees is to provide the
training for those workers. Because Wisconsin Ovens has had
difficulty finding qualified workers, they began a program to hire
and train unskilled workers.
program to hire and train unskilled workers is called WOC U and
it’s held at our Wisconsin Oven location. People who are
interested in taking classes through WOC U can go to our website
and submit their contact information. The website address is: https://www.wisoven.com/careers/woc-u," said Stimely.
type of training that you don’t hear too much about these days
is apprenticeships, but research shows that more than half of the
American public believe that recent moves to give apprenticeships
technical training the same importance as a college degree will
lead to a rise in more high school graduates seeking such
Metal Parts, Inc. sponsors apprenticeships in skilled trades like
tool and die making.
people think it’s old school, but it’s a great opportunity for
the right people,” said Manderfield. The company has also
started an online training platform offering a slate of courses in
the skilled trades. “Employees can take courses at their own
pace, at home on their own schedule. Whatever works for them,”
with training, helping employees pay student debt has become an
increasingly popular, though still rare, benefit that some
employers are using to attract and retain young talent. The
nonprofit organization American Student Assistance has found that
student loan help ranked third in most important benefits, after
health insurance and retirement plans, and before other perks like
professional membership payments.
companies make payments directly to an employee’s loans, while
others are making contributions to employee retirement plans. For
example, if an employee is making a 2 percent payment on student
loan debt, the company will contribute to the employee’s
retirement account. The new benefit will allow employees to
accumulate savings in their retirement accounts while committing
their own money to student loan debt.
see these programs as a valuable talent attraction and retention
tool, and it also benefits their business to develop their
employees and help them get to the next level. Some of our
manufacturing CEOs even talk about how a ‘rising tide raises all
boats,’ meaning that if one company invests in an employee
through tuition reimbursement and that employee ultimately ends up
at a different company later in their career, it’s still
benefits the industry as a whole,” said Payne.