Twin challenges face every environmental drilling company in 2020: a shrinking workforce and a lack of interest from younger generations in labor-intensive careers. But if the pool of potential candidates is getting smaller, we don’t send the lifeguard home — we build a bigger pool and invite people to the party who didn’t know it was even going on.

In previous columns, we’ve talked about recruiting veterans and women, but today let’s talk about students at trade and vocational schools. 

Trade and vocational schools offer programs that teach some of the skills needed for success as a driller or technical specialist. The mission at these schools includes providing multiple career pathways to students, which means school leadership is often eager to expose students to jobs they may have never previously considered.

Here are a few pointers for environmental companies and others in the drilling industry.

Build Relationships

Start by building a relationship with faculty and leaders, and arrange to speak to students about the drilling industry. If leadership understands your goal is to truly help students — both through sharing your knowledge and potentially by hiring them in the future — they will want to work with you if they can. If you don’t know how to connect with local schools, companies like Solutions Recruiting have programs that can help you connect.

Show the Way

Educate students about how the skills they’re building in their current program can be applied in the drilling industry. Drillers don’t always start their careers as drillers — they may begin as welders, heavy equipment operators, mechanics, construction workers or even farmers. Explain how those individuals with varying technical backgrounds may fit perfectly into our industry. 

Paint the Picture

Talk about the interesting and exciting projects that you’ve worked on and the beautiful places you’ve seen. Share the impact this work makes toward cleaning up the environment, ensuring safe drinking water, providing infrastructure, etc. Help students to understand they can find meaning and purpose in a drilling industry career.

To build a bigger talent pool, we have to think outside the box and reach people we traditionally have not. Exposing students to the drilling industry early in their education creates an opportunity to develop interest and nurture it into a talent pipeline.