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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


How NALP and the NALP Foundation are Responding to the Landscape Industry’s


Workforce Crisis The professional landscape industry strives to work together to find solutions. By Missy Henriksen


A


ccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71,000 jobs in the landscape industry went unfilled in 2017,


the last year for which data is available. Anecdotal data, gleaned from discussions with landscape contractors, however, point to a workforce shortage that is likely much more significant than what any official records show. Most professionals would agree, the industry has a critical need for seasonal, entry-level and management employees.


WORKFORCE SHORTAGE IS PERVASIVE CONCERN ACROSS INDUSTRIES


The landscape industry is not alone. According to research from the Korn-Ferry Institute, “the global talent shortage could reach 85.2 million people by 2030, costing companies trillions of dollars in lost economic opportunity.” With the strong economy and record-low unem- ployment in the U.S., the inability to find employees is pervasive across business sectors. Consider these exam- ples. The trucking industry needs to find 900,000 drivers in the next five years. The manufacturing industry expects to have two million unfilled jobs between 2015 and 2025. Food service doesn’t have it any easier; the Food Institute reports that in August 2017, there were 898,000 open jobs in the “accommodation and foodservices industry,” and that number increased by 20 percent in August 2018. Industry by industry, business sectors across the country are struggling with the workforce crisis.


INDUSTRIES ARE TAKING ACTION


With lost business and lost revenue at stake, business leaders across countless market sectors are looking less at short-term fixes, such as how they can hire employees away from their competition, and focusing more on how they can work collaboratively within their profession to identify macro-level solutions to their workforce problems. In many cases, the concerted and collective undertakings are creating systemic changes. For instance, the trucking industry has successfully eliminated many barriers that prevented people from working in their field: reducing restrictions on driving


14 THE LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONAL > JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019


ages, changing route structures to allow drivers more time with families, and increasing wellness benefits to discourage older drivers from retiring. The manufacturing industry, which invests millions of dollars annually to address their workforce shortage, has encouraged their businesses to make their work cultures more flexible to attract millennials. Manufacturers are responding with changes like allowing first-shift employees to choose a start time within a given window, “shift-switching” options that allow employees to swap schedules with other employees to attend family events, and greater flexibility with vacation scheduling. They have recognized that the regimented scheduling that has long been a hallmark of manufacturing is not compatible with the workstyle preferences of desired younger recruits. Women, representing more than 50 percent of the


available workforce, are still noticeably absent in many historically male-dominated industries. However, with the labor shortage so dire across the country, women are now being wooed by industries that once easily accepted the status-quo of their male workforce. For instance, the welding industry gave up on trying


to attract women to male-dominated classes in trade schools as they didn’t feel welcome; instead, they created alternative instruction models that offer classes just for women, where many of the instructors are women. These programs, offered through the industry’s Women Who


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