Should Your Talent Attraction Campaigns Target Skilled Workers?

As cities attract new businesses and investment, the question of whether to fill jobs by upskilling existing residents or recruiting new talent becomes increasingly significant. While both approaches are valuable, finding the right balance can be challenging.

Many economic development organizations engage in talent recruitment campaigns designed to encourage people to relocate to their communities. Most often, these successfully target knowledge workers, but what do skilled workers want when they move to a new community? When cities land manufacturing projects, for example, they must think about how to train or bring in all types of workers. To provide data on the best approach to growing your area’s pool of skilled workers, we contracted with a leading research firm, IPSOS, to survey a nationally representative sample of 950 adults who work in the following industries, in a non-desk job:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing & Production
  • Transportation & Warehousing
  • Installation, Maintenance & Repair

Below are key insights from the survey.

Key Insight #1

Many skilled workers have responded that they are open to relocating for their work.

Out of the respondents surveyed, 68% would consider relocation for work and 47% moved for their work at least once in their career.

Respondents in the Northeast and the South were more likely to have moved for work and be open to moving again.

Key Insight #2

Workers say they’d be more willing to move if their employer provided:

  • Increased Pay: 59%
  • Fully-Paid Relocation: 44%
  • Schedule Perks: 37% (Additional PTO, 4-day workweek, flexible work options,
  • choosing their shift, etc.)
  • Promotion Opportunities: 35%

Additionally, 40% said they’d look for communities where there’s a lot of opportunity in their field.

Key Insight #3

The relocation incentives from a community that these folks find appealing are:

  • Homebuying Assistance: 45%
  • Cash Stipends: 39%
  • Opportunity to Visit First: 35%
  • Programs to Connect to Hobbies and Locals: 27%

Respondents currently based in urban areas were more likely to be interested in programs to
connect socially in a new city.

Key Insight #4

Skilled workers would be most likely to prioritize these aspects of a potential community:

  • Cost of Living: 66%
  • Safety: 54%
  • Housing Availability: 54%
  • Weather/Climate: 47%
  • Transportation/ Ease of Getting Around: 39%
  • Proximity to Family: 35%
  • Appeal of a Fresh Start in a New Place: 41%

Key takeaways for your talent attraction strategy

Based on this research, many skilled workers are open to relocating and may be appropriate talent attraction targets.

Cost effectiveness, including cost of living in a new city and moving costs, consistently ranks highly as a relocation priority in our research, and we see this reflected strongly here as well.

Skilled and manufacturing workers, like most of us, want
to make decisions that get them ahead financially and increase quality of life. Plus, their professions are in high demand today, giving them increased leverage and a host of options.

The good news? There’s limited competition in community campaigns to recruit manufacturing and skilled workers. Yours could be one of the first, as most of these efforts focus on white-collar workers.

At this point, community programs incentivizing talent to move via cash or other perks aren’t unusual, but incentives geared specifically to blue-collar workers are. Salary increases, stipends, paid relocation and help along the path to home ownership could be huge in boosting your pool of skilled labor.

You may also want to share this research with your local companies for their recruitment efforts as they work to appeal to the best talent. It’s yet another tool in your business retention and expansion toolbox as you work to help businesses have the best possible experience in your community.

Bottom line: It’s worth considering how worker attraction, in addition to your local upskilling efforts, could help draw the people you need for big recruitment wins and staffing your current companies.

Originally published through Livability, here. Find more insights at

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