At Colorful Concepts, we’re generally able to keep up with our labor needs. We prefer to train painters in our own way of doing things, and certifications are not necessary at the beginning of a painting career. Still, we suffer from many of the same stigma the rest of the construction-related industry does.

Let’s dive into where the shortage is coming from, and how it can be addressed. We’ll also give our own personal recipe for keeping employees on staff and coming down the pipeline.
Background
An article written for Angie’s List in January 2017 states that “an array of circumstances planted the seeds of the current trade shortage in the early 2000s.” According to the article, this included the removal of shop and trade-based learning from high school curricula, as that was often the first exposure to trades for many future workers.

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The Great Recession (2007-2011) also made the problem more severe, as many workers were laid off and never came back.
Changes Need To Be Made
Fear Of Volatile Demand
While it’s impossible to control the economy, we do need to face the reality that many people are still scared of the large job losses during the Great Recession, and it continues to turn people away from our professions.

A single company could help “recession-proof” their business through precision planning. I’ve heard of one construction firm which chose to concentrate only on high-end luxury homes during and after the recession, because those individuals continued to spend money as lower- and middle-class family tightened their belts.
Focus On Trade & Vocational Training
There is a stigma around working in a trade these days. Some equate not going to college with not being successful, which is simply untrue. There are many trades where starting and mature wages are much higher than jobs which require 4-year degrees.

We need to destigmatize going to a tech college or training in as an apprentice, to make the work more attractive to laborers leaving high school.
Outreach To Younger Generation
Whether through maintaining social media presence, attending school job fairs or just chatting with the neighborhood kids while on the job, we need to adjust the face of our trades to survive. While it might not work this way in the painting field, construction, plumbing and other trades can partner with trade schools to speak in classrooms and host job shadowing opportunities.
Colorful Concepts Hiring Process
At Colorful Concepts Painting, we’re trying to circumvent any possible shortages through modern hiring practices and fair and ethical treatment of our employees. We know our future depends on keeping the employees we have and bringing in quality employees consistently.
Outreach
In order to find qualified workers and bring in the largest variety of individuals, we focus most of our hiring dollars on Facebook, and post also to Indeed and Craigslist. We also find those who may be interested in the field by getting recommendations from paint stores and other industry partners.
Benefits
In order to keep good employees around and ensure everyone is happy and healthy, we offer a wide range of benefits to our employees:
Competitive pay
End of year bonuses
Performance based bonuses
Overtime at 40 hours (construction doesn’t have to pay overtime until 48 hours)
Hands-on, on-site training
Paid gas
Paid travel expenses (hotel and per diem)
Paid drive time
Potential for a dedicated company vehicle
Simple IRA with 3% match (maximum by law)
HSA contribution
One week paid vacation after one year of service
Three company parties per year (Christmas, Spring, Fall)
Monthly meetings for senior field staff
Family-friendly culture
Flexibility
Verizon Wireless discount
PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) supplied at no cost
Uniforms provided

If you’re interested, we’re always hiring for the right individuals. Give us a call!
About Jon Boerger
Jon Boerger is owner of Colorful Concepts Painting & Custom Finishing, a full-service commercial painting firm transforming new and old buildings into dreamy business environments across the Upper Midwest. Besides commercial painting, the company also focuses on log home restoration, timber replacement, blasting and home maintenance. Follow Colorful Concepts on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Houzz.

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