How to Attract More Labor Force into the Construction Industry

Dena Nejad 7/20/2017 Exterior Contractors

The construction industry is on the brink of a labor shortage crisis. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the labor workforce is aging faster than in any other industry in the country. As of 2015, 20.7% of construction workers were 55 and older while only 7.3% were between 20 and 24. These numbers suggest that approximately 20% of the construction labor workforce is poised to retire in the next ten years. Exacerbating this issue is the fact that the number of labor jobs to be filled is steadily increasing. The BLS cites that, as of July 2016, there were 214,000 construction job openings. They also project that the industry will add 790,400 jobs by 2024. Consequently, construction companies are faced with the rapidly impending need to hire new talent as older employees will soon transition out and there are limited candidates to take their place.

Are Millennials the Answer?

With the prospect of a serious worker shortage looming, those progressive contractors who find a way to attract new hires will prosper. The most obvious generation to fill the labor need is millennials or those aged between 20 and 35. The question then becomes, how do you attract a millennial workforce? Recent data from the MRINetwork Millennial Hiring Trends Study indicates that one of the main issues preventing employers from being viable options for this younger generation is a lack of understanding about what is actually important to millennials. For companies to attract millennials, they need to gain a firmer grasp on the factors that motivate these potential group.

Understanding Millennial Motivation

Millennials were raised in the technology age, so they expect technology to be readily available. In fact, they research and seek out technology in order to accomplish tasks in the fastest method possible. This is a generation that thrives on bringing new ideas and innovations into their workplace. They are driven by results and they tend to measure success by how much they can get done, rather than how many hours they can clock. As for what they can bring to the industry, millennials will be comfortable using cutting-edge technology, they will be open about what they think, and they will be excited to learn.

Construction Industry Attributes that Appeal to Millennials

Millennials may not be interested in construction as a career based on misconceptions of what the industry is like. Fortunately, the construction industry is starting to make impactful changes, which make it more appealing to a younger generation.

Technology

The annual Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that young professionals are hoping to work for companies that support innovative thinking and practices. In the 2014 survey, 78% percent said they were “strongly influenced” by how innovative a company was when considering a potential employer. For the construction industry, this means embracing new ways of thinking about old problems. Specifically, using modern tools that transform the business of building. Jobsites across the country now regularly use equipment like smartphones, drones, and 3D printing. Another example of useful cutting-edge technology is HOVER. This platform guides the user to take photos of a home’s exterior. These photos are then uploaded to the cloud where they are analyzed by a patented technology and converted into a scaled 3D model. That way, contractors can see accurate exterior measurements of a home without ever pulling out a tape measure or climbing a ladder.

Safety

In much the same way that millennials were raised with technology, they were also raised with pervasive safety rules and regulations. This is a generation coddled, in a sense, by a society focused on their health and well-being, and the prevention of injury and illness. As such, the current state of labor safety should be appealing to millennial laborers. There are now stricter federal, state and local protocols in place on every jobsite that protect the safety and health of the employee, as well as the customer. More supervision helps keep workers safe from potential danger. Additionally, the use of new tools and technology can help prevent workplace injury. HOVER, for example, eliminates the need to climb on the roof in order to measure a home, thereby reducing the risk of falls.Those potential employees concerned about the inherently dangerous nature of labor can now feel better about the current safeguards in place throughout the construction industry.

Career Growth and Training

The MRINetwork Study reports that, for 53% of millennials, the decision of whether to remain with an employer is based on potential career growth or the incremental progression through new roles in the company. For ambitious millennials who are seeking to learn and move quickly through an organization, companies must create and implement focused solutions to foster career growth. In the construction industry, companies are making strides to promote career growth by offering exposure to both office and field work as well as to a variety of projects. This allows employees to determine which aspects of the industry they like best and to set goals for the future. Another important aspect of career growth is training. There is now, more than ever, a higher value placed on training and qualifications in the workplace. Regular and consistent training allow employees to gain new skill sets and diversify existing skill sets in the areas of technology, safety, and operating procedures. Consider establishing skills progression programs with a reward system for employees as they move up the training ladder.

It Takes More than Just a Job Posting

In today’s market, it is no longer good enough to simply advertise a job opening. Remember that the construction industry is not the only one in need of workers. You are contending with your usual competitors as well as with other industries. As a construction company, you need to consistently strive to create a work environment that attracts and retains the best talent.

Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about how HOVER helps contractors attract the most talented workforce.

Dena Nejad
DENA is Director of Marketing at HOVER. Dena is an engineer turned marketer who has spent 8+ years of her career introducing new technology to the construction industry.

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