Apprenticeships: A Proven Solution for Developing Talent

A change in hiring strategy is needed to keep pace with the growing demand for skilled maintenance teams.

The rental housing industry will need 130,000 additional maintenance technicians just to service the projected 4.3 million new apartment homes that will come through the development pipeline over the next decade.

However, recruiting efforts are lagging and property management companies are losing skilled workers at a faster rate than they can hire. During the Apartmentalize 2023 education session “Apprenticeships: A Proven Solution for Developing Talent,” industry leaders reviewed hiring and associate retention strategies to position the industry for the road ahead.

Led by Debbie Phillips, President at The Quadrillion, and Irene Munn, Principal at The Munn Firm, the session emphasized the importance of early candidate identification and training and urged employers to take a more direct approach to recruiting.

“If you’re going from career fair to career fair, you’re in the wrong place,” Phillips said. “Current hiring strategies are no longer meeting needs. You have to go into deeper sources. You have to get out from behind the desk and get in the classroom. It takes a lot of elbow grease.”

Management companies can partner with educational programs on multiple levels — supporting or sponsoring degree programs, providing maintenance supervisors as classroom instructors or hosting apprenticeship programs for dual enrollment credit. Phillips suggested partnering with construction programs at technical colleges and high school technical programs to offer classroom credits for work-based learning.

Such partnerships typically require public funding, as well as a champion at the C-Suite level of the organization. But the investment, accreditation certification and other logistics are well worth the effort in terms of maintenance staffing, Phillips said.

“I hear a lot of people say they can’t afford to get involved in an apprenticeship program,” Phillips said. “But really, you can’t afford not to.”

Tying an educational path with an apprenticeship helps candidates to complete degree programs while further establishing company loyalty. In the U.S., 71% of people enrolled in an apprenticeship program stay with the company that trained them.

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