With two million construction jobs originally lost in the U.S. alone during the 2009 recession, 600,000 of those positions remain unfilled today in 2019. Over the last decade, the labor force has shrunk significantly, not just in the U.S. but across the globe. In fact, many countries like India and China are experiencing infrastructure and private building booms yet can’t find enough workers to fulfill demand.
Today’s construction companies cannot afford to stay unchanged when it comes to recruiting and retaining skilled workers. Firms that fail to innovate the construction hiring process will struggle to progress in today’s competitive landscape.
Ready to learn more about attracting the industry’s top talent to your construction firm? To help companies improve and innovate the hiring process, we’ve released a new ebook, “Attracting Top Talent in Today’s Competitive Construction Hiring Landscape.” Download our ebook today and read below for a sneak peek on some of the tips inside.
Regardless of where a construction company is located or its size, implementing these 10 tips will help attract more qualified and skilled workers.
1. Think Outside the Recruitment Box
Many construction firms are still used to labor conditions that lead to qualified applicants seeking them out. Posting a job listing only on the company’s official website or a single industry-specific job board will result in lackluster responses. Looking outside the industry is essential to draw in skilled workers from the tech sector, manufacturing or other related industries that provide overlapping skills and experience.
2. Highlight Construction Technology
Attracting Millennials and other young adults is one of the construction industry’s biggest hiring challenges. Many of these individuals are looking for jobs that involve a lot of technology rather than hands-on trades. Highlighting the use of construction technology, including productivity tools (like PlanGrid and BIM360), can attract tech-inspired workers who think only of swinging hammers and carrying building materials when they hear about a job in construction.
3. Offer Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships were once the primary form of training and entry-level work for newcomers to the field of construction. While they’re still a popular form of hiring in countries like the U.K. and many parts of Europe, opportunities have dropped off significantly in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
Freelance contract work and the use of advanced heavy machinery has reduced much of the demand for unskilled labor, resulting in less of a demand for apprenticeships. However, offering two to four years of training while getting some skilled labor from the apprentice during that time is a good trade-off. Apprenticeships can attract workers that would otherwise never have the money or time to spend on college or technical school training to become qualified enough for a position.
4. Improve the Industry’s Reputation
Producing videos and other content about the daily work experiences of modern construction workers is a great way to overcome the misconception that all the work is dirty, dangerous or physically challenging. Companies may even want to ramp up and humanize their brand and industry by improving their presence on social media.
There are plenty of positions within a construction company that never involve direct contact with the project site, but many qualified potential employees aren’t aware of that fact. With over 60% of contractors reporting they’ve heard that the work they’re offering is considered a “dirty job,” it’s clear that investing in reputation improvement could help everyone in the industry.
5. Get Involved in Education
Reaching out to local training programs and technical schools can help you tap into new sources of labor before they’re ready to hire. Spending a little time and money on individuals still training for a new career can build your reputation and help hire the most talented students before the competition even has a chance.
6. Support Current Employees
If there’s not enough new labor to go around in an area or sector of construction, companies need to reduce their turnover rates as much as possible to retain every skilled employee they can. Some ideas for reducing turnover in a construction company include:
- Health and safety initiatives that go well above and beyond what’s required by OSHA or any other national safety agency
- Paid holidays and vacation time on a guaranteed schedule to prevent burnout and physical repetitive use injuries
- Rich benefit packages that grow with an employee’s time with the company, such as shares of ownership or company vehicles from a leased fleet
7. Check Real Pay Offers
When calibrating the right pay level for a posted open position, don’t just consider industry sources that are widely published. These pay grade recommendations are often years out of date. Turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics first for a general overview of position pay. Unfortunately, the statistics covered there are limited to broad categories for construction positions. For real-world data on what a specific position is paying, check actual job listings from the competition. Providing a higher rate of pay than at least 50% of similar job offers will help the position stand out and will raise the overall quality level of applicants.
8. Expand Subcontractor Use
If it’s impossible to find full-time or part-time employees, try hiring more subcontractors that can provide both skilled and unskilled labor services. Subcontractors tend to cost slightly more per hour but don’t require benefits and the same insurance coverage, allowing the company to focus on finding employees without falling behind on current and ongoing projects.
9. Provide More Advancement Opportunities
Lack of advancement was cited as a major stumbling block in the construction industry by over half of surveyed contractors. Project engineers want to become project managers after a few years of proving their worth, and field employees want a shot at moving into the office when they hone their interpersonal and technological skills. Internal and external advancement keeps workers interested and engaged while attracting newcomers who can see a fast-paced and demanding career ahead of them.
10. Be Honest About Work Scheduling Changes
Unlike many other more stable industries, demand for new construction or renovation work can rise or drop rapidly. Don’t guarantee more hours or long-term stability for a position than the company can genuinely provide. If there’s even a slight chance of work and weekly hours dropping off significantly or disappearing altogether within the first few years of employment, make this clear upfront to all applicants so they can assess individually if they’re ready for that challenge.
Overcome the Labor Shortage by Improving the Construction Hiring Process
With these tips, construction teams are off to a good start in tackling construction labor shortage issues. If you’re looking for more information about construction hiring best practices, download our ebook titled “Attracting Top Talent in Today’s Competitive Construction Hiring Landscape” to learn more.