It’s no secret that the construction industry is continuing to grow, even ahead of other industries. In fact, many projects that have gotten the green light are only delayed by the lack of skilled laborers necessary to complete the work.
A hyper-focus on desk jobs in “professional” settings has contributed to the skilled labor shortage that the construction industry is experiencing. Fewer young people are choosing to enter the workforce directly out of high school or trade school. Another factor that has greatly impacted the industry is the early retirement of baby boomers due to the pandemic.
The pandemic caused many Americans to rethink their career paths, and the dust hasn’t settled yet. But for many hardworking people who are disenchanted by other lines of work, the construction industry offers some unique benefits that other jobs don’t. Unfortunately, it’s up to those in the construction industry to get the word out about why it’s so appealing.
There are several major reasons why skilled laborers are hard to come by, but here are some remedies to the problem:
Advertise Job Satisfaction
A recent report showed that 83% of tradespeople were at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs. Many recent college graduates that are toiling in entry-level office positions are finding themselves dissatisfied and unengaged with their work - and working with their hands may be just what they need.
However, it’s up to construction companies to change the conversation on this topic. Rather than focus on salary, paid time off, benefits, and other common offerings for attracting candidates, companies need to focus on the job satisfaction that many tradespeople feel on a daily basis.
If you want to enjoy your work and feel fulfilled by what you do for a living, construction is a great choice for you.
No Need to Start Off in Debt
The average American student leaves college with over $32,000 in student loans. Many students graduate with significantly more debt than that - and payment plan options can leave students paying on their loans for 25 and 30 years. That’s a huge burden for a young person to take on.
But many skilled trades have little or no formal education requirement, meaning student loans are nonexistent. Paid apprenticeships and on-the-job training mean that you are actually earning an income while you learn, rather than taking on debt.
Be Willing to Diversify Your Workforce
Construction laborer jobs have been dominated by white men, especially skilled laborer jobs. But women and people of color are just as qualified to become electricians, plumbers, painters, and more. It’s up to construction companies to seek out a variety of people who are hardworking and willing to learn.
Recruitment efforts need to be expanded in order to fill all of the open positions.
Emphasize Opportunity for Growth
Most young people are willing to work hard if the opportunity for growth exists in their industry. Everyone wants to know that they will be rewarded for hard work and dedication. Although pay rates for apprenticeships, internships, and entry-level positions may sound low, it’s important to emphasize how quickly someone can move up in a company.
The opportunity to be paid to learn new skills, including leadership, communication, project planning, project development, and budgeting skills is invaluable. Many skilled laborers that start at the bottom find themselves leading on projects within just a few years. Unlike other industries that make it hard to maneuver between positions, construction allows for exposure to a variety of disciplines. This means that workers can easily expand their skill sets, or find trades that they are better suited for.
As you begin your hiring for the busy spring and summer months, take the time to reevaluate how you’re attracting candidates, and where you’re seeking them out. You may be pleasantly surprised by who you find when you expand your search.