There’s a few blog topics I hear about frequently—no matter what angle the writer takes. For starters, employee morale, lowering costs, Apple vs Android, the list goes on. Recently, I saw a popular topic come to life: the lack of skilled construction labor available for hire. Earlier this year I told my company I’d help in recruiting an additional commercial carpenter and quickly learned it’s a different world than the recruiting I was once accustomed to.
Observations vary, but I’ve noticed a dramatic uptick in project demand, yet a diminishing workforce to perform the work. Now that the recession is over, businesses are able to test the waters on expansions and more involved facility prototypes. This is pushing ample opportunity for growth, but challenges in finding qualified resources to staff jobs.
How is this situation tackled?
Promote through example:
Gain time with young audiences deciding career paths, whether in vocational schools or through personal connections. Highlight a strong success story and easily accessible path towards obtaining a rewarding career in specialty trades and/or general construction. Too often someone deciding a career path will opt for what the majority does, and that doesn’t always offer the best fit. If a construction firm aiming to recruit partners with local technical schools speaks with these groups, they can address incorrect assumptions and provide answers formed by real-world experience.
Empower groups with education:
Reinforce the value in blue collar work and make this known within your overall locality—schools, trade classes, career centers, etc. This is possible through sponsored events promoting trade skill education to youth, or even promotion of a construction company as a strong employer with job security and a relaxed culture. This discussion can be extended to offering actual training such as apprenticeship programs where experience can judge fit for someone on the fence.
Emphasize the pros of pursuing skilled labor careers as a stronger alternative to white collar work for many. Everyone’s different—but there are many cases where people can sway with the crowd’s choice. Someone stronger in a skilled labor role may make a choice for white collar work if all their friends do so. Engagement with the community can encourage a younger work force to embrace skilled trades. This can easily be tackled in coordination with local schools and colleges.
Make the right connections:
A historically untapped group in construction is women. This is gradually changing, however there is ample opportunity for workforce growth through aiming to fill this gap.
Pursue relationships with recent immigrants and new citizens who are in search of work in an unfamiliar country. These people are keen to develop in their new surroundings and work hard to do so. Training programs can offer a great solution to integrate these ambitious laborers into any processes in place while also acclimating them further in new surroundings.
Once these valuable employees are found and trained, the next most important piece is retaining the talent. This involves a ton of elements, but in my opinion, this can be simplified into clear and open communication. As long as feedback is heard and valued, all other parts can fall more easily into place. Is a change of pace in sight? I certainly hope so—but until then, value the dedicated construction laborer assets you have. These employees are few and far between.
About the Author
As Marketing and Business Development Manager of JH Greene & Son, Inc., Heather Grossmuller is responsible for expanding relationships and staying on top of the brand’s presence. Always cognizant of the firm’s perception and evolving construction trends, Heather’s role keeps JH Greene current and on the forefront of client expectations.
About JH Greene & Son, Inc.
JH Greene & Son, Inc. (www.jhgreene.com) is a commercial general contractor, construction manager, and owner’s representative serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. We thrive on developing turn-key construction solutions to diverse project types, whether retail, restaurant, healthcare, senior living, or professional space.