Hiring on qualified tradesmen from Europe might seem like much more of a challenging task than it actually is. In this interview Penny, HR-officer at Solid LLC in Minneapolis, shares her experience of how easy it was to partner with the German-based start-up, Journeyman, and enhance her team with fully qualified, apprenticeship-trained German craftsmen.
Who is Solid and what is your role in the company?
Penny: SOLID LLC is a privately-owned carpentry contractor in St. Paul, Minnesota. As an HR-Officer I am responsible for recruiting, selecting and retaining our great carpentry crews!
Can you describe your communications with Journeyman?
Penny: The first step is to have a brief call with Journeyman to talk about the specific skill needs we have for the next group of craftsmen. After that initial call, it usually takes Journeyman five business days until they send me the candidates. I then review their CVs with my general manager to ensure the skillsets do in fact match those specified during the initial call. Journeyman then helps us set up introductory chats via Skype to meet the candidates face-to-face and if we feel a good vibe, we extend the work-based training offer. At this point, Journeyman takes over and handles the rest of the process until the candidates are stateside and ready to work.
How has your experience been working with us and the candidates we’ve sent you?
Penny: SOLID LLC has been working with Journeyman for over a year and the best thing I can say is that the communication is totally pro-active and transparent. I always know what is going on during the onboarding process. The Operations Team is very good about sending information and asking follow-up questions that the candidates may have about the company. Journeyman is very focused on enabling their candidates to have the best possible experience abroad.
Is there a lot of work involved from your side in getting these candidates over?
Penny: Oh no, it’s been a very straightforward process (laughs). Everybody involved is very helpful. If I make a mistake on one of the very few administrative tasks, there is always someone from Journeyman so kind to connect with me immediately and walk me through the process.
Do you consider Journeyman a reliable partner?
Penny: Absolutely! I am not known as being a patient person when I think that things aren’t running smoothly or that people are not being honest with me. I never get that impression from Journeyman. In fact, I always feel good when I get off the phone with Journeyman.
Have the Journeyman candidates met your expectations in terms of the skills needed on site?
Penny: Yes, they do. So far, I have not received any negative feedback from any of our foremen. The carpentry candidates come very well educated and well versed. Initially, there were concerns that the language would be a barrier, but this hasn’t been an issue at all. The candidates come, and I think that the crews and the candidates enjoy helping each other expand their knowledge of each other´s language. I truly have no concerns.
On a more personal level, what are (next to having skilled carpenters) other benefits of having tradesmen from Germany, Austria or Switzerland joining your company?
Penny: I think it has been an eye-opener to discuss amongst the crews the differences in the building codes and methodology between the different countries and the U.S. Probably one of the things that the candidates have brought up the most is how in the U.S. buildings don´t last as long as in Europe and therefore other building techniques are used. Also, their work ethic is of a higher standard than that of many people we have tried to hire locally.
So overall, do you think it paid off for Solid to bring Journeyman tradespeople on board?
Penny: Yes, it has and here is part of the reason why. The market for hiring in the trades, at least in the Minneapolis-Saint-Paul-area, is practically nonexistent. People are not going into the trades anymore. Back in my high school days, the boys would learn to build things with wood and about car mechanics in the “shop” courses. Those courses are not offered anymore and the young students often don´t get any exposure to these trades. It is therefore very hard to find well-trained craftsmen locally. Through cooperation with Journeyman, we are able to get well educated, smart, and sharp carpenters. Not to mention, it helps us greatly with our staffing. Furthermore, there is an exchange of ideas between the candidates and our crew which enables our local workers to learn new skills that would not have been possible without the program. From a monetary standpoint, it totally helps our staffing pattern and furthers our company.
What is Journeyman all about?
Journeyman is a German based start-up with a mission to build a global online-platform for the trades. Starting out, we’re helping construction companies from around the world find highly skilled and qualified tradespeople from Germany, Austria and Switzerland through our global trade-exchange program. Furthermore, we love sharing our insights with the industry and helping construction companies develop better and more sustainable Human Resource strategies.