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» Companies Actively Recruiting

 STEM Strategies

In a high-demand environment, companies implement innovative STEM recruitment and retention strategies along with the tried-and-true.
One of the biggest dilemmas facing today’s job market is that the numbers don’t add up, especially pertaining to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) positions.
According to Adecco Staffing USA, 271,000 undergraduate degrees in STEM areas are issued every year; however, the number of STEM-related jobs opening up each year is an estimated 277,000, thereby creating a deficit.
But that’s not the entire equation. Researchers suggest the gap between the supply of STEM professionals and the demand for their expertise is much wider, and extends beyond just graduation rates.
Industry watchers point to myriad other causes, too. For example, Adecco analysts say only 10 percent of STEM graduates accept full-time jobs within related fields. Plus, there’s more widespread demand across industries. From retail, healthcare and finance to myriad other types of companies, increasingly more non-technical companies rely on STEM specialists. In other words, there are more players in the game vying for the same talent pool.
Employee retention further complicates the situation. Adecco reports only 8 percent of STEM degree holders are still in the field 10 years after graduation, and that’s not accounting for the accelerating number of retirements every year.
When you add it altogether, it’s easy to see why employers find themselves straining to hire enough qualified STEM candidates.
So how are corporations, high-tech and otherwise, attracting a diverse, talented pool of candidates? What programs have they instituted to retain staff? Here, six human resources representatives discuss the growing need for STEM professionals and their companies’ recruitment and retention initiatives.
Johnson Controls Taps Multiple Audiences
Johnson Controls, based in Milwaukee, WI, makes environments comfortable, secure and sustainable. Primary product families focus on building management, refrigeration, security and fire safety, along with various battery functions, including lithium-ion products and recycling services. Dana Valentine, vice president of human resources for building technologies and solutions, joined Johnson Controls 12 years ago and now oversees its outreach campaigns.
Why does Johns Controls focus on STEM recruitment?
Dana Valentine: We’ve been involved in STEM recruitment since the inception of the organization, but there’s been a formal initiative for 20-plus years. We’ve had long-standing relationships with and recruit from organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
What’s a program highlight?
Valentine: We’re building a sales training program. It’s a one-year onboarding and training program that’s skill-based. Participants go to offices in Chicago, IL, Dallas [and] Houston, TX, Atlanta, GA and then come to Milwaukee for classroom training. When they graduate from the program, they become full-time engineers on staff.
Is workforce diversity an element of your STEM recruitment efforts?
Valentine: [We strive for] 50 percent of women and minorities representation in the program. There are so few female workers who are actually in STEM, but when you look at the number of women graduating in STEM majors, it’s astounding. Companies need to be more aggressive, and Johnson Controls is committed to closing the gender gap.
What efforts have been made to retain STEM professionals?
Valentine: Johnson Controls is one of eight organizations working with SWE’s Re-Entry Task Force to implement iRelaunch for women who’ve been out of the workforce for a minimum three years. Our program is called Next Chapter, and it’s an eight-week onboarding program to help women get re-acclimated to the work environment and return to STEM jobs.
Why are STEM recruitment initiatives key for all companies?
Valentine: You can argue STEM is around us in everything we do. Many studies show basic STEM literacy is required for success, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation and leadership.
What’s your advice for those establishing a STEM recruitment program?
Valentine: It’s important to understand where are you as an organization and what you need prior to committing to a program.
Check out www.johnsoncontrols.com/careers/why-johnson-controls for Johnson Controls career opportunities. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
ArcelorMittal Redefines Steelmaking for the Future
In addition to producing an estimated 114 million tons of crude steel, ArcelorMittal mined more than 73 million tons of iron ore, according to 2015 figures. It also operates a dozen research and development centers around the world. Prior to joining the company, headquartered in Richfield, OH, Beth Spurgeon spent 10 years in the non-profit sector developing corporate partnerships. As the ArcelorMittal USA corporate responsibility manager, she continues to work with community organizations, including those spearheading STEM awareness.
Why does ArcelorMittal focus on STEM recruitment?
Beth Spurgeon: We’ve identified 10 sustainability outcomes globally, and number nine is developing a pipeline of talented scientists and engineers for tomorrow. We’re addressing that in two parts. The first part is instilling in students a lifelong love of learning, particularly in STEM. The second part is hiring talented STEM professionals. Today everything is automated. We need people familiar with computer controls, and all that comes with STEM education.
What’s a program highlight?
Spurgeon: Forty percent of our overall giving is to STEM programs, which includes after-school programs, competitions, curriculum and advocacy initiatives. The Steel Workers of the Future is a two-year community college program. We’ve created the curriculum with input from colleges, companies and the union. By the time students achieve their associate degrees, they [have the knowledge] to sustain careers in the manufacturing sector. That not only helps build up [the pipeline] for the company, but also for the community because STEM jobs pay well.
Is workforce diversity an element of your STEM recruitment efforts?
Spurgeon: [We’ve identified] seven organizations of underrepresented and under-resourced groups, from middle school up to high school and programs with SWE for career readiness.
What efforts have been made to retain STEM professionals?
Spurgeon: We have a robust training program for craft skills people and salaried professionals. We’re also supporting them through webinars and conference attendance. It’s critical for everyone to continue to upgrade all of his or her skills.
Why are STEM recruitment initiatives key for all companies?
Spurgeon: STEM professionals are critical for every industry. They excel at critical thinking. They’re educated in a way to think about how their work lends to every job.
What’s your advice for those establishing a STEM recruitment program?
Spurgeon: Build strong partnerships. We do amazing things in helping our partners, but you have to listen to community needs, too.
Access corporate.arcelormittal.com/people-and-careers/working-at-arcelormittal for ArcelorMittal career paths. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
Turner Reinforces STEM Infrastructure
One of the largest construction firms in the country, New York, NY-based Turner Construction Company works with clients in a variety of commercial and residential industries, which include hospitality, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing and aviation/transportation. Its workforce of more than 5,000 offers a full menu of services, from designing and construction to building information modeling and medical planning and procurement. Vice President Rosemarie Demonte explains how the company invests in its future workforce development.
Why does Turner focus on STEM recruitment?
Rosemarie Demonte: Turner Construction Company has been recruiting engineers since our founding 115 years ago. This year we’ll hire 400 students with a range of engineering, science and math degrees. We also support and encourage the transition of military veterans to careers in the construction industry. Military service members bring a great deal of experience that prepares them well for a range of employment opportunities.
What’s a program highlight?
Demonte: The Turner BRIDGE program is a comprehensive internship and co-op experience for undergraduates seeking a career in construction. It’s more than a summer job. It’s a professional and educational experience that prepares students for a successful transition to a challenging and rewarding career.
Is workforce diversity an element of your STEM recruitment efforts?
Demonte: As a company looks to strengthen its talent pipeline, it should look to support a more diverse and inclusive pipeline, one that better reflects the world in which we live, and the clients and communities we serve. Although the number of women and minorities involved in STEM has increased over the years, we’re still well behind the averages of other industries.
What efforts have been made to retain STEM professionals?
Demonte: We work hard to foster an environment where employees feel that not just one, but many people are invested in their success. Our focus on the individual, and on personal and professional development, is yielding positive results as we’ve increased our recruiting targets, and retention and engagement of our employees.
Why are STEM recruitment initiatives key for all companies?
Demonte: As we work to realize the vision of our clients, we witness first-hand how STEM literacy is also driving positive change beyond the typical STEM-centric companies and industries.
What’s your advice for those establishing a STEM recruitment program?
Demonte: We need to advance a strong message regarding the myriad opportunities available to STEM graduates. These are the kinds of big challenges that can serve to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Traverse turnerconstruction.com/careers for Turner job paths. Connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.
PPL Turns Up the Power on STEM Recruitment
As long as individuals and businesses introduce electronic devices and other energy-consuming appliances and machines into their everyday lives and operations, the need for a modern, two-way grid that uses innovative new technology grows. Leaders at PPL Corporation know they must continue to invest in upgrading tech to meet current and future needs. In fact, the organization announced a $16 billion commitment to improve or replace aging facilities. Of course, implementing such an extensive campaign requires staff knowledgeable in the latest smart grid and energy-related technology. Building and retaining such a workforce is one of the responsibilities assigned to Thomas Lynch, chief human resources officer for the Allentown, PA-based utility.
Why does PPL focus on STEM recruitment?
Thomas Lynch: There are two things changing the workforce demographics: a lot of retirements and changing technical needs. They’ve increased the game in terms of the focus of recruitment and hiring.
What’s a program highlight?
Lynch: We created an engineering rotation program that has new engineering hires move through the business disciplines, from new construction to substations to maintenance so they can see the range [of what we do]. We’ve also sponsored a lineman training program at one of the community colleges. These technical jobs are sought-after by candidates, and they go on to be leaders, and that’s important.
Is workforce diversity an element of your STEM recruitment efforts?
Lynch: One of the interesting programs PPL sponsors is the Girl Scouts mobile STEM lab. There are many remote areas in our service territories where they don’t have the same access to educational opportunities for young girls. The mobile lab allows STEM education to reach girls no matter where they live.
What efforts have been made to retain STEM professionals?
Lynch: There are indications that 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day in the U.S. We’ve created a knowledge-transfer program to provide continuity and service to our customers. It requires careful attention, and we’ve been able to do it.
Why are STEM recruitment initiatives key for all companies?
Lynch: We’re a 24/7, technology-driven society. There’s a reliance on IT and other forms of technology. We work a lot with communities to make sure STEM workforce development is occurring from preschool to the university level.
What’s your advice for those establishing a STEM recruitment program?
Lynch: Quick victories are hard. Who you hire is the most important decision any manager can make, and not just for right now, but for years to come.
Peruse pplweb.com/careers for PPL job possibilities. Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Dow Strives to Find Perfect Recruiting Formula
As the global workforce pipeline leader for the Dow Chemical Company, headquartered in Midland, MI, Shelly Alexander spends much of her energy identifying the company’s STEM requirements and devising mechanisms to meet those staffing needs, both domestically and abroad. She routinely confers with regional workforce planning leaders and fellow STEM program management team members. And in 2015 she led the launch of the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship Program (USAP).
Why does Dow focus on STEM recruitment?
Shelly Alexander: For Dow, specifically, the large majority of our workforce is comprised of employees in STEM-related roles. Therefore, attracting, developing and retaining STEM talent is critical to our success. Throughout the years the company has formed strong partnerships across the globe with strategic universities, community/technical colleges and vocational schools that are vital sources for Dow’s entry-level STEM talent pipeline.
What’s a program highlight?
Alexander: Our global apprenticeship program portfolio is a highlight. Dow currently has 500-plus apprentices in seven countries. The Dow USAP has already grown to just less than 100 apprentices across four states with projections of reaching 130 by the end of 2017. A portion of our manufacturing and engineering workforce is comprised of employees in process technician and skilled-trade careers, which don’t require a four-year degree. Through a combination of formal education and on-the-job training, our apprenticeship programs offer one pathway to prepare individuals for these types of manufacturing careers.
Is workforce diversity an element of your STEM recruitment efforts?
Alexander: Dow truly values diversity and recognizes our diverse and vibrant workforce as a strength that enables us to deliver global innovative solutions. We continuously drive efforts to enhance our workforce so it reflects a truly diverse and inclusive environment similar to that of our stakeholders [and] customers and the communities in which we operate.
What efforts have been made to retain STEM professionals?
Alexander: We believe employees are one of our most important tools to inspire and prepare the future STEM workforce. In 2014 we formally launched Dow STEM Ambassadors, Dow’s signature employee volunteer program is aimed at supporting teachers and inspiring students by bringing Dow employees into schools in the local communities in which they work to share their stories and expertise. [As of] the end of 2016, we’re proud to have more than 2,200 ambassadors across approximately 40 sites in 24 countries.
What’s your advice for those establishing a STEM recruitment program?
Alexander: I’d emphasize the importance of diversity, building strategic STEM partnerships and engaging employees to support the overall strategy.
Dive into dow.com/en-us/careers for Dow career possibilities. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr and Google+.
GBP Thinks Outside the Box
Competition for STEM talent intensifies when seeking specialists to work in niche industries, such as papermaking. High-tech companies compete for the larger pool of engineers and scientists in the more common disciplines, but the number of paper scientists and packaging engineers pales in comparison. Still, demand for their unique skills continues to deepen, thereby amping up competition. Bob Fieck, director of human resources for Green Bay Packaging, Inc. (GBP) based in Green Bay, WI, says this phenomenon has multiplied exponentially over the past few years.
Why does GBP focus on STEM recruitment?
Bob Fieck: This is an incredibly robust industry as far as STEM areas are concerned. When we go to universities, whether it’s for paper science or packaging engineering, we recruit juniors for internships and give them good experiences in our facilities so they come to us after graduation. Sometimes we’re actually the fourth company to offer positions to students.
What’s an example of a program highlight?
Fieck: This is an area where we have more opportunities to create. Although we primarily focus on packaging engineers and paper scientists, another area is forestry. We have 250,000 acres of renewable timberland. We like to consider ourselves green before being green was cool, and we use that to our advantage.
What efforts have been made to retain STEM professionals?
Fieck: It’s one thing to recruit employees, but it’s a whole other ballgame to retain employees. Professors tell me students know which companies have employees leave and which companies have people stay. Think about how difficult that is currently and how much more difficult it will be in the future to attract STEM positions.
I’m happy to say we have very high retention rates. However, the reason we’re so focused on recruitment right now is that we have so much seniority, [and] they’re starting to retire. Our focus for the next five years is heavily on the recruitment side because of our demographics, specifically with retirements.
Why are STEM recruitment initiatives key for all companies?
Fieck: We’re facing one of the unique aspects of Baby Boomers retiring; there are going to be significant gaps across all industries and disciplines, including healthcare, education, the military and government, finance, manufacturing, and construction. It’s the whole dynamic of the workforce.
What’s your advice for those establishing a STEM recruitment program?
Fieck: Ultimately companies will have to do different things to find talent because of how competitive it is. If you just sit back and post positions, you’re not getting the talent.
Go to gbp.com/careers for GBP job opportunities. Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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