The construction industry is in need of workers from all backgrounds to fill in, but most importantly: it needs experienced, skilled workers. During the economic recession, almost 2 million workers were laid off. Now that the economy is improving, the construction industry needs those skilled workers back. However, those experienced workers have either already found other secure jobs or have retired from the workforce.
Even though unemployment rates are high in some areas of the country, the workers available don’t have the skill sets needed for more advanced construction work. The biggest problem for the industry is the lack of young adults entering apprenticeships. They are not interested in the “dirty work” associated with skilled labor jobs. Construction companies are losing margins on the jobs they do complete because they have to work with smaller crews than they originally planned and budgeted for.
Skilled labor is not for everyone, but by pushing the attractive elements of what skilled labor means to construction, you can expect the industry to increase. According to a survey released by The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 71% of contractors plan to increase their headcounts in 2016. The AGC recommended increasing funding for career and technical education for young adults with the goal to set a great example for possible solutions to overcome this skilled labor shortage. Also, The California Homebuilding Foundation (CHF) has been working to promote the Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA) -a comprehensive, four-year high school program instilling applicable and work-ready skills for students seeking careers in the building trades industry. The BITA program has expanded to 11 school sites throughout California. Students become immersed in the various aspects of homebuilding trades and careers by completing hands-on construction assignments such as framing, roofing, and reading blue prints.
So what can be done? There are many ways to overcome this situation. Support for programs such as BITA is a good start. In addition, job offers should highlight benefits such as flex time, health insurance and use of company vehicles as well as the security that came with prevailing wage pay from public works jobs. Another way could be to focus on safety as it reduces the risk of accidents among experienced workers and companies with a strong history of safety are in a better position to attract more workers. The most valuable assets in a construction company are the employees. When hiring experienced, skilled labor workers with the potential to grow, you are creating opportunities for the employee and the company. Investing in training can help employees get to that skilled level and can also help your team stay strong during the shortage. According to as survey FMI, the management consulting and investment banking firm, the three methods that survey respondents use to retain skilled workers are competitive pay, great work environment, and training opportunities. Learning is a process that should never stop and all companies in the industry should stay up to date with trends and changes to help the construction industry.