Propane industry positions to recruit for the long term

August 19, 2021 By    

No matter where we turn in this country, we hear that finding and keeping new employees is a significant issue for most employers. The lingering concerns about the pandemic, government-enhanced unemployment benefits and the unsettled nature of many businesses have added to the normal challenges of keeping a competent workforce in place.

Attracting, hiring and keeping career-minded employees has always been a challenge for propane retailers, evidenced by our aging workforce. Fortunately, the propane industry has been positioning itself to make that process easier. It is time to remind yourself of all of the positive developments being made by propane industry members through the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), state and regional organizations, equipment manufacturers, technology companies and others.

Technology advancements: Most of today’s job applicants will be looking at how the propane industry has embraced technology to make their jobs more productive and interesting. Applicants will question: Is this an industry that will continue to progress and be around for a while? If you haven’t fully embraced technology in your propane business, you are falling behind your energy competitors and other employers, and that will become apparent to prospective employees.

Are you incorporating tank monitors, sophisticated routing and scheduling software with field employee interface, advanced back-room software with a customer access portal, and digital advancements in sales and marketing outreach? Are you considering advanced metered billing and other options for the future? If you aren’t there yet, make sure you put yourself on a path to incorporate technology soon. Prospective employees will be interested in hearing from you about how you have embraced technology and what you are considering for the future.

Training and education opportunities: It doesn’t matter whether your applicants come to you from high school, after some level of college or from work in another industry. They will all want to know how they will be able to learn the skills and knowledge to perform well in their new jobs. NPGA members and staff spent years building a firm foundation for the propane industry’s Certified Employee Training Program (CETP), and now PERC has taken the program to new levels. Prospective employees should be impressed with this program’s attention to detail and the versatility of in-person and online training capabilities.

Apprenticeship: If CETP isn’t enough of a training opportunity, you may now consider hiring a new employee as an apprentice. NPGA and PERC combined efforts to develop a U.S. Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program for several different categories of employees. This program incorporates CETP and other means to train and educate employees on skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the propane industry. Take a serious look at the apprenticeship program as a way of hiring and developing your front-line workforce.

I speak from experience, having completed an apprenticeship in another industry. You may wonder why I left that other industry to come to the propane business to spend my working career. Even back then, I knew that the propane industry offered a cleaner, healthier work environment and was an emerging clean-energy solution. Those advantages remain strong today.

Your job applicants should still be coming to you with a neat appearance, good personal and work background, indications of a strong work ethic and whatever else you are seeking as they market themselves to you. But it is time you also started doing a better job of marketing your company and our propane industry to job applicants as well. Today, the propane industry has far more to offer prospective career-minded employees than at any time in its history. Prepare to market the strengths of your company and the industry. Prospective employees should be impressed.

Tom Jaenicke is vice president of propane marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications. He can be reached at or 810-252-7855.

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