Although the construction industry traditionally provided countless jobs, it would seem many firms are now struggling with finding skilled tradespeople to hire. The difficulty of hiring and retaining a well-rounded workforce makes it problematic for many construction firms to keep up with high demand. In fact, 74% of firms predict a shortfall of qualified skilled trade workers. This has created a critical gap between the supply and demand for skilled labor, hindering many company’s ability to grow.
Baby Boomers, out. Gen Z, in.
Pursuing a college degree has become an essential aspect of the American dream, making it harder for construction firms to attract younger generations as Baby Boomer workers begin to retire. Luckily, Gen Z seems to be wary of achieving a degree after having watched the generation before them wind up with large amounts of debt after college. As a result, construction firms must shift their focus to attract Gen Z, which is made up of people born between 1995 and 2010. The majority of this generation has grown up with technology as part of their daily lives, making them qualified to help construction firms develop and implement technology that will in turn, increase efficiency.
With this in mind, we’re seeing a shift in attention by construction firms to new technology trends, attracting younger generations as a result. Indeed, here at Branco we are working hard to consistently innovate and incorporate technology in our daily work. While this has proven effective, there are many other methods of catching the attention of this generation.
Getting Attention in a Crowded Field
It’s an employees market—that is to say, the job market for Gen Z and Millennials, especially in the skilled trades, is wide open and potential employees have a lot of options at their fingertips. This means companies must raise the bar on recruitment and find innovative ways to stand out in the crowded job market. The most beneficial methods of enticing Gen Z workers are providing earn-as-you-learn programs, giving them a direct path of career growth and presenting them with the opportunity for career success at a young age.
While Gen Z workers potentially have a lot to offer, firms still have a lot of work to do in order to retain the next generation. Many firms struggle to keep young employees because they have such high expectations of quickly working their way through the ranks to a high-level leadership position. On top of this, employees are very confident when looking for new jobs. They are increasingly leaving for more promising opportunities. 78% of workers feel comfortable looking for a new job while employed.
There are a variety of solutions construction companies can attempt in order to address workforce retention and shortages. First, it’s highly important to encourage more students to attend trade specific schools. High school students, guidance counselors and parents should be aware of the alternatives to pursuing a degree.
Second, construction firms can shift their focus to building relationships with vocational schools to create a steady pipeline of potential workers. Companies can then create apprenticeships and methods of learning onsite from skilled trade workers to accommodate training, educating and mentoring to close the skills gap. For instance, at Branco, we have worked hard to create our Apprenticeship Program and have seen great success with it. This learn-as-you-earn program is designed to give young employees a clear career path. It is not uncommon to find employees on our jobsites who started their careers in our Apprenticeship Program.
Finally, in order to maintain a well-balanced group of employees, construction companies must start focusing their attention on appealing to their current staff and potential employees using popular perks and enticing incentives such as: on-site amenities, flexible work schedules, retention bonuses, profit-sharing plans and a compressed work week, among others. A good balance of mentorship, on-the-job training, and utilization of the upcoming workforce’s talents is something we can all strive for.