Blue-collar workers get a career network of their own

150 150 John Guenther

(Photo Credit: PEO ACWA)

When it comes to finding a job, your online reputation matters, and I don’t mean how many cat videos you’ve uploaded. Most folks use LinkedIn to promote their skills. Journalists and communications pros can use the profile site Muck Rack to show off their work and connect . But what if you use your hands most of the time to build things rather than type on a computer in a cubicle? A new California startup called WorkHands might be for you.

Right now, there’s around 600,000 manufacturing industry jobs that are unfilled because employers can’t find the workers with the right skills, says the National Association of Manufacturers. A cool idea that started here in California, gives skilled trade workers, like machinists and welders, the ability to create a profile with their skills, certifications and photos of their work.

Just like LinkedIn, WorkHands lets users connect fellow workers, companies and trade schools and endorse the skills of other people. 

“We’ve been contacted by organizations all over the country that struggle to fill these positions, from publicly traded companies, municipal public works departments, economic development organizations and everything in between,” Patrick Cushing, WorkHands’ CEO, said to the San Francisco Chronicle.

An executive at a Fontana, CA steel plant told us last year that the number one issue for the business is finding skilled workers and keeping them there because demand is so high. 

“We don’t need workers to have four-year degrees, but there’s sophistication in today’s manufacturing plants that demands workers are prepared. It’s hard to find them trained and ready to go,” said Brett Guge of California Steel Industries, Inc.

The WorkHands site is definitely a great step towards raising the profile of people in skilled trade jobs and hopefully filling some of those jobs here in California. There’s also a lot of work to be done to get more people into the field. And that will take building more partnerships between colleges, trade schools and industry to create clear career pathways into these jobs. And bringing back shop class to high school wouldn’t hurt.

Helping to foster those kinds partnerships is one of the goals of the Advancing Manufacturing Action Team, one of seven working with the California Economic Summit. We’ll be talking more about actions California can take as the Summit approaches and takes place on November 7-8 in Los Angeles. 


John Guenther

All stories by: John Guenther