Job availability really hasn’t been an issue in recent years, particularly with those who opted to stay home and collect unemployment during the COVID months. It was during this time that those businesses that remained open were in need of help.
That need has continued into 2022 as many have decided to look at finding different professions, if they are looking at all.
There have been convenience stores and fast-food restaurants that have closed their doors early on a business day because there was not enough help available. This isn’t relegated to somewhere else, it is happening right here in Livingston County.
It might be said that Caterpillar is a business that is in need of help because there are immediate openings right now, and officials with the manufacturing company might say that that is a recurring issue — that there is help needed virtually all the time because of the success it has experienced.
No one went on the record to say what actions Cat took during COVID, and the website that was suggested to view didn’t offer much toward answering what happened. What could be taken from it was that vaccinations were strongly encouraged but not required and that production didn’t stop.
Coming out of the COVID problem, one thing is certain, there are jobs available and Cat at Pontiac is looking at new ways to get more people hired.
One method that has been implemented in an effort to try to get more help is through a program that Kevin Kramer, Human Resources manager at the Pontiac plant, calls “Talent Tuesday.” This is a program that looks to expedite the hiring process.
“We have, basically, an open hiring event,” Kramer told the Daily Leader recently. “We’ve been doing those since last October, they’ve been very successful for us.”
Caterpillar is currently looking to fill 50 positions at Pontiac and the job fair that is “Talent Tuesday” is seen as a key tool to getting the right candidate for the right job.
“Talent Tuesday” takes place the first Tuesday of the month and takes about two hours for a job candidate to work through the process. The next such hiring day is July 5.
There are several steps to the hiring process and the on-site hiring event allows applicants to complete most or all of the hiring process in one afternoon,” Kramer said. Each person is guided through the process by HR personnel.
“The idea of having these hiring events is for many of these attendees to leave the job fair, or the hiring event, with a job offer,” said Kramer. “These events allow interested individuals to see our work place and to answer any questions they might have about our job openings.”
The Pontiac plant is currently looking to hire welders, CNC machinists, machinist trainees, assemblers and material checkers.
“We have an immediate need for 50 folks and we hope to fill those openings as quickly as possible,” Kramer said. “We will be having these hiring events the first Tuesday of the month from now until at least October.”
Keeping it local is important. Kramer pointed out that Cat is looking for help from the community. “I believe we are always going to need talent from our local community.”
Kramer also noted that these job fairs have been successful. Pontiac has been holding this particular type of program since October 2021 and is looking at keeping it going at least until this coming October.
Although other sites have different methods, the Pontiac program seems to be a positive for those looking to get in more quickly.
Kramer said that people have responded well at Pontiac and that an applicant may leave with a job offer instead of having to wait. The process takes around two hours from start to finish.
“Many of them will leave here with a job offer. That quick feedback to them, I believe, is really what they like about these on-site hiring events,” Kramer said. “They don’t have to go through several weeks to hear back as to whether or not we’re going to give them a job offer or not. Most of them get a job offer the same day.”
The process is simple. Kramer said a person simply walks in and is greeted by someone from HR, who then guides them through the process. A photo ID is required but a resume, though helpful, Kramer noted, is not necessary.
If the applicant has not already filled out an application, they go to a computer lab and do so. Then comes an interview. If it is decided to hire the applicant, an offer is made right there. There are some other steps to be taken should the offer be extended and accepted.
The new employee can expect to start 2-3 weeks after being offered a position.
There are currently approximately 1,100 employees at Caterpillar-Pontiac. The jobs that are currently available have varying starting pays but all are full time and there is a benefits package. Most of the positions have a starting wage of $20-24 per hour while welders, after training, start out in the $26 per hour neighborhood, Kramer said.