What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up? Vocational Work Stigma in the Utility Industry and Its Implications for Recruitment of Highly Qualified Candidates
At young and impressionable ages, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question seeks to answer who we want to be, embedded in the idea of what we do for work. In this study, we partnered with a large utility company called Advanced Utility Company (AUC). In recruiting quality candidates for vocational positions, AUC must consider the stories of stigma surrounding vocational work embedded in their community and told to job seekers across their lifetime. Moreover, they must consider how these narratives influence the jobs that quality candidates pursue. This quality improvement project utilizes qualitative methodology to: (1) understand the decisions and choices applicants face during the recruitment process for vocational work. (2) describe the experiential interaction between stigma and an applicant’s decision-making. (3) inform tactics that influence quality candidates to pursue and enter vocational positions at AUC. Findings suggest addressing structural instabilities, individual identities, and social identities in AUC’s recruitment process can support the recruitment of quality candidates in times of increased demand.