How to Create a Blue-Collar Career Development Plan

By creating a career development plan, you can set your deskless, on-the-go employees up for success and help them reach their full potential.

Desiree Grosman
October 11, 2022

Is your construction company, manufacturing plant, or skilled trades business struggling to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the industry? Are you finding it difficult to find qualified employees to fill your open positions? If so, creating a career development plan for your team may be just what you need.

A career development plan can help your employees stay motivated and engaged in their work, while also preparing them for future promotions or opportunities within your company. Here are a few tips on how to create a career development plan for your blue collar workforce.

What Is a Career Development Plan?

A career development plan is an outline of the steps an employee can take to reach their long-term career goals. It includes a wide range of experiences and skills that employees must acquire to reach their desired objectives. This may include taking on new assignments or responsibilities, pursuing educational opportunities, or participating in professional development activities.

A career development plan can help you retain your best employees and ensure that they are prepared to take on future leadership roles within your company. This gives them the confidence and skills they need to be successful, while also providing you with a pool of qualified candidates for future openings.

Outlining Your Organization

Every company, no matter the size, can create growth opportunities by having a system in place for career development. This begins with having an organizational chart that clearly outlines the hierarchy of your company. Each employee should know what their position is and what the next step up would be.

If you don't have an organizational chart, now is the time to create one. This will help you and your employees visualize the path they need to take to reach their career goals.

Landscaping Org Chart via NALP's The Edge

A sample landscaping company org chart (via The Edge)

From the organizational chart, you can then create job descriptions for each position. A good job description should include a list of the duties and responsibilities of the role, as well as the knowledge, skills, and abilities required.

Making sure that your employees have access to this information will help them understand what is expected of them in their current role and what they need to do to reach the next level.

Seeing your org chart mapped out will also help you identify any gaps in your current workforce and determine what training or development needs to be provided to employees.

And having both of these tools will help you create enticing hiring ads to recruit new talent.

Developing Individual Plans

Once you have outlined your organization, you can begin developing individual career plans for your employees. Individual is the key word here, because each employee will have different goals and needs.

Can you create a path for advancement for each of your employees without their input? Sure.

But if you want to create a plan that will actually excite and motivate them, you need to involve them in the process. Loyalty and engagement will go up, and turnover will go down.

Start by meeting with each employee to discuss their career goals:

  • What do they hope to accomplish within your company?
  • What kinds of roles are they interested in pursuing?
  • Where do they feel their skills are strongest?
  • What areas do they feel they need to improve in?
  • Are there any training or development opportunities that they are interested in pursuing?
  • Where do they see themselves in 5, 10, 20 years?

Use this information to create a customized plan that meets their individual needs and interests.

Career Development Planning

We all go through different stages in our careers. And as we move through these stages, our goals and priorities change. What we need from our jobs also changes.

So now that you have a clear organizational structure and an idea of what your employees want from their careers, it's time to create a plan that will help them achieve these goals.

Taking any short or long term goals into consideration, think about what kinds of assignments or projects would help your employees grow and develop over time. These could be within their current role or something completely different.

It can help to start with the destination and work backwards. From there, you can break down their career development plan into smaller, more manageable steps:

  • What kind of role do they want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? And what kinds of experiences and skills will they need to get there?
  • Are there any upcoming projects that you can assign to them that will challenge them and help them learn new things? If not, can you create opportunities for them?
  • Can you send them to conferences or workshops that will help them develop the skills they need?
  • Can you connect them with a mentor or coach who can help guide them along their career journey?
  • Are there any internal promotions or transfers that they could take advantage of?

You may also want to consider cross-training, which would involve moving employees to different departments within your company. This can help them gain new skills and knowledge and broaden their perspective of the organization as a whole.

How to Provide Training and Development Opportunities

There are a few different approaches you can take when creating a career development plan. The most important thing is to find an approach that works for your company and your employees.

One popular approach is termed "70-20-10." With this approach, 70% of an employee's development comes from on-the-job experiences, 20% comes from interactions with others, and 10% comes from formal learning opportunities.

70-20-10 Employee Developmentg opportunities

This model is a great fit for blue collar industries like manufacturing, construction, and the home services, where much of the work is hands-on. It's also very scalable because, like apprentice programs, it relies heavily on mentorship and peer-to-peer learning, which can be done without a lot of formal training. In fact, you might consider starting your own apprenticeship program as part of your career development plan.

Investing in formal learning opportunities can be very beneficial for your employees. In some cases, it may even be necessary.

Certificates, licenses, and other forms of professional development can give employees the push they need to take their career to the next level. It can also show them that you are invested in their future. And when employees feel supported by their company, they are more likely to stick around.

What Should You Do if an Employee’s Goals Change Over Time?

Creating a career development plan is an ongoing process. It's not something that you do once and then forget about. You need to regularly check in with your employees to see how they are progressing and make adjustments as needed.

Employees' goals and priorities can change over time. Family needs can change, financial needs can change, and health needs can change...

They may start moving up the ladder and find that they no longer have the time, energy, or interest to pursue their original goals. As their manager, it's your job to help them adjust their career development plan as needed. This may mean changing the focus of their development, altering the timeline, or even starting from scratch.

And as your company grows and changes, your career development plans will need to change too. What works for a team of 10 employees might not work for a team of 100. So stay flexible and keep the lines of communication open.

The labor shortage may only get worse in the coming years. If you invest in developing from within, you'll not only save yourself the time and money of recruiting and training new employees, but you'll also end up with a more loyal and productive workforce.

By creating a career development plan, you can set your employees up for success and help them reach their full potential.

Ready to fill the gaps in your workforce? Team Engine can help. Our software makes it easy to find, hire and retain quality employees. Get started with a risk-free trial today!

Subscribe to the Team Engine newsletter

Want our latest and greatest delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter and get regular deliveries in one click.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.