Survey results reveal contractors’ hiring and training experiences

Dec. 12, 2022

Earlier in 2022, we at Cabling Installation & Maintenance reported the results of our annual compensation survey (“ICT industry not dealing with The Great Resignation but rather, The Great Retirement,” May/June 2022). For the first time in the four years we have been gathering this data, average (mean) compensation declined. Our analysis led us to believe that retirement was one of a few factors (less overtime and lower bonuses being others) that pushed total compensation downward, as older and generally higher-paid workers left the industry.

Shortly after we published those results, in the summer of 2022, we conducted a separate survey of professionals in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry to gather information about contracting organizations’ hiring and training practices. In that same survey, we asked about workers’ retirement plans. This article summarizes that survey’s findings, which we also presented at ISE Expo 2022 in late August.

Methodology and participants

We collected data via an online survey; invitations to participate in the survey were sent and data was collected during the months of July and August 2022. We sent the invitation to participate in the survey to the audiences of Cabling Installation & Maintenance as well as sibling brands Broadband Technology Report, ISE, and Lightwave.

We collected information from 731 respondents, including 309 who characterized their organizations’/employers’ primary function as the design and/or installation of communications networks. Of those 309 respondents, 236 manage other workers within their organizations, and 158 of those managers had hired or attempted to hire personnel within the 12 months prior to completing the survey.

We used this survey to try to gain insight into several aspects of operating a cabling contracting organization. Specifically, we wanted to learn: the extent to which organizations train new workers on industry-specific skills and products, the turnover rate among workers, managers’ experience attempting to hire new workers, and workers’ experience as well as their plans for remaining in the workforce versus retiring.

Hiring and training

We asked all participants the following question: Does your organization have an on-boarding program for new hires that includes instruction in the technical specifics of the job they will be doing? Sixty-one percent responded in the affirmative, and that they train new employees internally. Eight percent send new employees to a third-party training organization for skills development. And thirty-one percent do not have such an on-boarding program. Additionally, in seventy-one percent of contracting organizations, installers and technicians receive training on the use of specific products from manufacturers whose products the company installs or uses. Six percent of organizations pay for manufacturer-specific training from all manufacturers in their portfolios, and sixty-one percent pay for training from some select manufacturers, while thirty-three percent do not pay for manufacturer-specific training.

The 236 survey respondents who manage or supervise other workers within their organization categorized themselves as follows.

  • Foreperson or manager overseeing a single crew: 14%
  • Foreperson or manager overseeing crews working in multiple locations: 19%
  • Manager or director of an entire department of installers and technicians: 32%
  • VP or C-level executive: 35%

We asked these managers what percentage of the workforce under their supervision had turned over during the previous two-year period, and on average the response was twenty-five percent.

Sixty-seven percent of those managers/supervisors (160 in total) had hired or attempted to hire one or more new workers in the previous 12 months. In an attempt to quantify the extent to which hiring ICT professionals poses a challenge to contracting companies, we asked these 160 respondents a few questions about their recent hiring experiences.

Respondents had the opportunity to select multiple answers to each question, because they may have made more than one attempt to hire within the 12-month time period. For that reason, responses expressed in percentages total more than 100.

We asked what level of experience respondents sought to hire:

  • Entry level/no experience: 51%
  • 1 to 2 years: 50%
  • 3 to 4 years: 54%
  • 5 to 10 years: 42%
  • More than 10 years: 26%

Finally, we asked these hiring managers to characterize what they found when reviewing candidates who applied for job opening(s) within the previous 12 months, again allowing for multiple answers from each respondent. Here’s what they told us.

  • No or very few candidates applied: 47%
  • Candidates who applied were unqualified or underqualified for the job opening(s) available: 57%
  • A good pool of candidates applied and the manager chose from multiple qualified candidates: 23%
  • Most or all applicants were overqualified for the position(s) available: 4%
  • Desirable candidates’ compensation requirements exceeded what the employer was prepared to pay for the position: 24%

Longevity and retirement plans

Among all survey respondents—not just those with management responsibilities—thirty-five percent have worked in the ICT industry for 31 or more years. Another seventeen percent have been in the industry between 26 and 30 years, while eighteen percent have worked in ICT between 21 and 25 years. That totals seventy percent of workers who have been in the ICT industry for more than 20 years.

Sixty-five percent of all workers say it is very likely they will remain in some role in the ICT industry for the remainder of their professional careers. Another twenty-two percent say it is likely they will do so. We asked all respondents how long they plan to continue working before retiring. Their responses were as follows (results total 101% due to rounding).

  • 1 to 2 years: 8%
  • 3 to 5 years: 20%
  • 6 to 10 years: 25%
  • 11 to 15 years: 18%
  • 16 to 20 years: 12%
  • 21 or more years: 10%
  • Do not plan to retire: 8%

We included these questions about longevity and retirement in this survey in an attempt to acquire complementary data to that which we obtained from our most recent compensation survey. Taking these most recent results at face value, they appear to confirm quantitatively what many in the industry have observed unscientifically—that the industry is approaching a wave of retirements.

The entire ICT industry faces a challenge to recruit, hire, and train a new generation of workers who will succeed outgoing retirees. At Cabling Installation & Maintenance, we strive to produce information that is useful and practical to professionals in the ICT industry. We hope the data from this survey is helpful to individuals and to organizations as you plan personal and professional objectives in the coming years.

Hiring, training, and longevity by the numbers

Here are some noteworthy statistics from our survey of contracting companies, and ICT professionals working for them, about hiring, training, and their intentions to remain in the workforce.

  • Companies that provide skills training to new employees: 69%
  • Companies that pay for manufacturer-specific product training: 67%
  • Average percentage of employees who have turned over in the previous 24 months: 25%
  • Hiring managers who had no or very few candidates apply for open positions: 47%
  • Hiring managers who found only unqualified or underqualified candidates for open positions: 57%
  • Workers who have been in the ICT industry for more than 20 years: 70%
  • Workers who plan to retire within the next 10 years: 53%

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