For decades, the skilled trades have faced a chronic shortage of labor. Various factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and an unpredictable economic outlook, have compounded the need in recent years, resulting in an unprecedented labor crisis for business owners in the field service industry.

Experienced service technicians have more leverage than ever, which is transforming how contractors recruit, hire and retain talent. Contractors in skilled trades increasingly recognize that new strategies are required to stand out in a crowded job market and build teams designed for success.

In this volatile and hypercompetitive market, business owners are adapting training strategies to reflect these evolving conditions.

A Foundation of Traditional Training

Successfully delivering consistent service in 2023 and beyond is accomplished with the proper foundation: training. This process begins and continues in the classroom, where technicians learn the knowledge and skills that will serve them throughout their career. Even with the arrival of new workplace training technologies and strategies, traditional technician training remains a critical building block of the comprehensive learning ecosystem needed to meet the expectations of today’s customers.

In addition to classroom settings, on-the-job training provides valuable learning opportunities. When new technicians watch more experienced employees in the field, they engage directly with real-life situations and solutions they will encounter. Current team members can pass on their accumulated knowledge through one-on-one, hands-on experience. On-site learning allows trainees to ask questions and learn directly applicable skills.

Adding In-house Training

Field service business owners and their teams have new opportunities to supplement foundational training with tools that support organic, ongoing training. An internal training program can be a powerful resource that, combined with classroom learning, allows employers to accelerate the time it takes to prepare a new technician for the job site.

The flexible training opportunities offered by internal programs add a new dimension to training. Supported by advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, team members can quickly gain simulated hands-on experience in relevant, immediately applicable skills. Seasonal downtime can be used to learn and customize training platforms to ensure technicians can engage with information that matches their learning style.

Reliable in-house training tools can be added to foundational training to elevate technician skills quickly. Focusing on earned knowledge and implementing tools that help them catalog accumulated experience can enhance operational efficiency and productivity in the field and help young workers in a challenging field develop more quickly while making fewer mistakes.

That means that contractors can reduce their reliance on hiring experienced technicians.

Being able to recruit capable candidates who may lack experience in the trades widens the talent pool. Expanding the traditional training necessary to equip new technicians with core skills can be accomplished by adding flexible and comprehensive training tools. The resulting comprehensive learning ecosystem reduces the time it takes to prepare techs for the field and ensures all technicians, regardless of experience, have a wealth of resources available for informed decision-making.

As a result, younger technicians can operate more effectively and quickly, and more experienced technicians are relieved of the support roles they too often find themselves in.

Technicians recognize the value of learning opportunities to enhance their earning potential and job experience. When they are confident about their future, they’re more likely to deliver extraordinary service that ensures repeat business and supports growth in a competitive environment. With a commitment to flexible, self-paced, continuing training and education, contractors can demonstrate their investment in their team members and establish a position as an employer of choice.