How to Navigate the Construction Industry’s Skills Shortage

The building industry is experiencing a boom in spending while simultaneously being faced with construction skills shortages in the tightest labor pool in recent history. To put the issue into perspective, the National Association of Home Buildersreported that in 2017, the availability and cost of labor was ranked as the number one concern by 82 percent of our nation’s home builders. Yet as recently as 2011, only 13 percent of builders ranked labor as an issue of concern.

Simply put, the recession of 2008 didn’t just hit homeowners hard — it also had a significant impact on the construction industry. CBS News reports that as a result of the recession, more than 1.5 million home construction workers permanently left or retired from the industry. Also, despite recent surges in construction spending, many schools have lost both funding and interest in their vocational programs — so there are fewer young workers with basic wood and metal working skills entering the job market.

With Baby Boomers retiring from construction jobs and new workers being harder to come by, the question for construction company owners is, “What can be done to successfully recruit new talent, from laborers and skilled workers to contractors and site managers?”

Overcoming Construction Labor Shortages

Fortunately, at Coachfirm, we’ve been in the business of helping companies find solutions to their most challenging problems for more than 15 years. In that time, we’ve helped many companies unlock their potential and secure the talent they need to survive — and thrive.

It’s clear that during the recession, the construction industry took a hit that changed the labor landscape. To move forward as a business and make it in today’s competitive landscape, you need to stop asking where yesterday’s talent went and instead, start thinking like your future talent.

Millennials in Construction

Ultimately, the key to attracting new talent to the construction industry is a story for the ages — or more precisely a story about age. While Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are comfortable searching for jobs via traditional hiring routes such as classifieds and job boards, millennials are far more tech-savvy job seekers who prefer to use their mobile devices to both search and apply for jobs.

If you’re not thinking like a millennial, you’re not going to solve your labor problem. To help you get into the right mindset, here are a few proven practices you might want to consider leveraging in your hiring and employment processes:

  • Use Social Media: The days of word-of-mouth hiring are over, and the days of selling your company’s brand and the opportunities you can offer new hires are here — thanks to social media. Remember that you don’t have to be a business guru to tell the story of your company and why it’s such a great place to work.
  • Allow Mobile Job Applications: A recent Glassdoor study found that nearly half of all job applicants found it challenging to apply to a job via a mobile device. Yet millennials overwhelming prefer to use their mobile devices to make job applications. The lesson here is to make sure your application process is optimized for mobile devices.
  • Provide Purpose and Guidance: To engage and retain millennials, you need to provide them with a sense of guidance and purpose. From highlighting any green construction practices you support to setting up a mentor program for younger workers to realize their career paths, efforts to win over millennials can have a substantial ROI for your business.
  • Implement Upskilling: Finding skilled labor can be easier when you offer on-the-job training and upskilling programs. Plus, with a younger worker trained the way you want, you can meet your immediate talent needs while also paving the way for future leaders in your company.

To learn more about how to successfully navigate the construction industry’s skills shortage, feel free to contact us today.

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