What Employers and Governments Can Do to Solve the Workforce Shortage

The national workforce shortage remains a pressing issue for businesses and the U.S. as a whole, as it threatens the county's economic recovery. So what can be companies and governments do now to help solve this crisis?


Air Date: October 26, 2021

Moderator: Eleanor Mueller, Labor Reporter, POLITICO

Featured Guests: Judaline Cassidy, Feminist Plumber, Founder, and Chief Visionary Officer, Tools & Tiaras Inc., Christopher Griffin, CEO, USG, Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions

The national workforce shortage remains a pressing issue for businesses and the U.S. as a whole, as the shortage threatens the county's economic recovery. So what can be companies and governments do now to help solve this crisis?

Eleanor Mueller, labor reporter for POLITICO, spoke with executives at the recent Talent Forward Summit 2021 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation about this topic. During this talk, business leaders shared how meeting employees’ needs and building strong talent pipelines can help bolster post-pandemic work.

Building a Talent Pipeline for Women in the Skilled Trades Sector

The skilled trades sector, including jobs such as construction and plumbing, has been particularly hard-hit by existing labor shortages. Coupled with the fact that women are typically underrepresented in the field, businesses can look toward attracting women to the skilled trades to build a strong talent pipeline.

Judaline Cassidy, founder and CVO of Tools & Tiaras Inc., has focused her career on helping get girls and women into the plumbing industry. Her recommendation: getting tools into girls’ and womens’ hands through skilled labor workshops.

“Physically putting tools in girls’ hands empowers them to another degree, [where] they realize, ‘Wow, I can do anything,’” Cassidy said.

Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trade Unions, also emphasized the importance of making women feel welcome and setting them up for success in the trades.

“We’re trying to put together a couple of pilots for the unionized construction industry where we’re going to operate our own childcare centers,” shared McGarvey. “We [also need to] figure out by listening to women what accommodations are needed on a construction site to make them comfortable so that they feel safe and productive.”

How Businesses and the Government Can Help Solve the Labor Shortage Crisis

The task of preparing for present and future workforce needs doesn’t fall solely in the hands of individual businesses. The public, private and nonprofit sectors, as well as the government, can help by supporting trade programs that bolster the talent pipeline.

“In my day, every high school had vocational, woodshop, auto, all of those trade schools within the programs,” said Christopher Griffin, CEO of USG Corporation. “We want to work at [the] grassroots [level] to make sure that kids have a chance earlier in life to get the tools in their hand.”

“Secondly, we need to continue to support programs that have been successful,” Griffin continued. “How do we help them expand their capacity [and] geographic reach so that we can get even more people into the trades? The entire economy depends on this.”