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Solving The Workforce Shortage

Kelsey Kasten, HR Manager at Cardinal IG
Kelsey Kasten, HR Manager at Cardinal IG

As a manufacturer of glass for Marvin Windows, Cardinal IG’s glass plant in Fargo is always hiring. With a staff of 285, they have hired 25 employees in the last year. This keeps Kelsey Kasten, the HR Manager, busy but through creative recruiting methods, Kasten is solving the workforce problem facing every manufacturer. 

Fargo and North Dakota as a whole are facing a labor shortage. How are you getting ahead of this and finding the right employees?

We rely heavily on word of mouth and our presence on Indeed to find employees.

Our employees are our best form of advertisement. They love working here, so they want their friends to work here too. The ease of applying online has also helped us develop a larger candidate pool. Being able to apply online give candidates the ability to reach out to us if they’re unable to make it here during our business hours. We also have a significantly more structured, detailed application process today than we had five years ago, which helps us better identify the type of candidate who will be successful working within our culture.

I understand you are recruiting many new Americans as employees. What has your experience been like doing this? Do you have unique recruiting efforts to get in front of these potential employees?

Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, it has been an incredible learning opportunity for me personally. People love to talk about themselves, and I enjoy learning about anything they’re willing to share. Understanding where our employees came from and how they got here is always a humbling experience.

As for our business, it has also been a great practice. Being known for our diversity helps us bring in candidates because they know we are welcoming of everyone. I think Cardinal has a unique view on “recruiting new Americans” because we don’t see it as a barrier, rather a challenge that we can overcome. We currently have employees from over 30 different countries, and the languages that are spoken here are exponentially greater than that. We utilize the resources we have on hand – our employees! When we have candidates that speak little to no English, our employees are willing to help translate when necessary. New hires are partnered with a “Master Trainer” during their first few weeks and a majority of our Master Trainers speak multiple languages.

What advice would you have for other manufacturing companies in the state that are having trouble recruiting?

Our goal is to create lasting impressions with our employees, impressions that we hope will last a lifetime. If we do this correctly, word will spread about what a great company we are. We feel that employers need to create an environment where their employees feel valued and respected, a place that their employees will want to tell their friends about.

Graph of The Rundown on the Workforce Shortage

Have you used any resources available from the state or other organizations?

We use staffing agencies in the area. The ND State College of Science also has a program for new Americans entering the workforce that has proved to be a valuable asset.

Tell me about your retention efforts.

Retention is all about how employees feel they’re being treated. During orientation, Mike Arntson, our plant manager, spends time talking about the plant and our values with our new hires. We believe this shows the new employees that they are valued from the moment they walk in the door.

Cardinal IG – Fargo has five core values: family, safety, teamwork, excellence and respect. We try our best to be sure our actions and decisions align with our values, so that our employees feel like they’re a part of the team and that they are being respected. Safety is also a huge part of what we do. Our product is dangerous, so we take as much precaution as possible to be sure our employees can go home the same way they came to work. We have an extensive safety program. In fact, we are an OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs Star certified worksite. Our efforts to take care of our employees show their dedication to us. We have about 50 employees who have been with us for 15+ years.

Skills ND Program

Skills ND, a program through ND State College of Science, offers workforce training in skilled trades and certified nursing assistants. Now in its 18th year, the program has seen more than 1,000 people pass through it. New Americans composed the majority of people who go through the program but it also serves unemployed or underemployed people as well. 

With pre-vocational classes that help people brush up on their math, language skills and safety concepts, the program encourages people to get better paying jobs and advance their careers. While they normally look for businesses to send employees too, because of the low unemployment rate, they are looking for companies to send their employees through the Skills ND program to get better training. 

Each of the classes is 18 days long (4.5 hours per day) and are designed so somebody can work full-time and go to class. 

To get involved in the organization, you can reach out to Deanne Sperling at Deanne.Sperling@ndscs.edu.

ndscs.edu/workforce-affairs/skillsnd facebook.com/pg/ndscsworkforceaffairs

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