Upstate staffing companies stay responsive to workforce demands

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Efforts combine focus on local talent with recruitment outside the region

 

Upstate staffing companies are collaborating with the region’s industry leaders to meet the high demands for a skilled and reliable workforce. Understanding local employment needs are key to recruitment services and can play a large role in showcasing the area’s ability to create a sustainable workforce.

The complete hiring plans of an incoming business must be provided to staffing companies so they can be better prepared to meet their needs, said Abby Gary, director of professional services for Human Technologies Inc.

It is important for employment services to know not only the number of hires expected but also the types of positions needing to be filled, she said.

Although staffing companies do not influence regional business recruitment firsthand, a strong indigenous workforce can be used as a persuasive marketing tool.

Gary said companies interested in relocating to the area want to see that the Upstate is capable of staffing a high-volume and high-speed facility within a reasonable amount of time.

The ability to staff large companies efficiently can appeal to industry leaders considering the Upstate of South Carolina for business relocation, she said.

HTI began establishing a relationship with ZF Lemforder Corporation five years ago while providing a staff for its Duncan facility.

Gary said the company requested HTI’s assistance once again when ZF Transmission moved into its Gray Court facility in May 2012 and began full-scale production in January of 2013.

The initial job announcement called for 800 employees, she said. To date, ZF has exceeded its initial request and is at over 1,400 employees.

Gary said HTI created job fairs, recruiting events, partnered with SC Works, and worked with the region’s technical schools to build a staff.

Staffed entirely locally, job recruitment for ZF began with the professional and skilled labor, she said. Once production was started, “we began hiring the remainder of the workforce.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 10.21.12 AMAs large companies begin the hiring process during startup, it is impossible to complete the operation in-house, said Marisa Middaugh, HR process manager for ZF Transmissions.

HTI handled all pre-screening for candidates based on ZF’s hiring plans, she said. Upon beginning operations, staffing services enable large companies to hit the ground running with a prepared workforce and maintain that momentum as they expand.

Gary said HTI worked with Greenville Technical College to develop positions in maintenance and machining.

Machine tool technology and mechatronics were areas of study applicable to the job openings, she said.

In an interview with the Upstate Business Journal in April, Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College, said the school will amend their curriculum to meet workforce demands.

Greenville Technical College is shaping education to meet employer needs through programs offered in the Corporate and Career Development Division, he said. “The school was established in the 1960s to create the skilled workforce companies need for success.”

As companies come into the region with major job announcements, or an existing company expands its operations, a ripple effect is experienced throughout the marketplace.

When major job announcements are made, staffing firms are well aware of the domino effect that often occurs, said Julie Brown, president and owner of Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing.

When one firm expands, its resonance extends beyond job seekers and into the Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers to those major corporations, she said. Large expansions signal aftershocks that are far-reaching, and depending on the scale of the announcement and the type of hiring needed, small businesses may also feel wage pressure.

Including advertising and online posts through business and national websites such as Monster or Careerbuilder, most staffing firms use a variety of techniques in building their workforce, Brown said.

Many companies use referral programs and hold career fairs, she said. The talent may be found locally or beyond the regional market, “but it is not difficult to sell candidates on relocating to the Upstate; we are an easy sell.”

Brown said staffing and recruiting companies are uniquely qualified to assist firms as expansions occur.

The industry recruits 365 days per year and represents the largest single employee base, she said. “Because recruiting and staffing is our only business, we have a very good temperature on the job market.”

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