Has there ever not been a skilled labor shortage in the construction industry? For years, contractors have been reading about the lack of workers who perform the detailed tasks that can make or break a project’s profitability. Unfortunately, times haven’t changed.
In the fall of 2014, the Associated General Contractors of America released the results of an industry study in which 73 percent of respondents reported having difficulty locating qualified “craft” workers such as carpenters, equipment operators and technicians. In addition, more than 80 percent stated that there simply aren’t enough skilled laborers hitting the employment market to fill demands in 2015.
Although contractors can’t create craft workers out of thin air, you can plant the seeds of tomorrow’s skilled workforce. Here are some things you can do right now:
Participate in career or job fairs.
Tomorrow’s skilled labor is today’s student body. High schools and community colleges are stocked with talented young minds and hands, ready to learn the construction trade. Many of these individuals either aren’t aware of the opportunities in the industry or just haven’t decided on a career path yet.
Help them by taking the time and making the relatively minimal investment of setting up booths at local and regional job or career fairs. Your objective isn’t necessarily to hire everyone with whom you speak; rather, it’s to point visitors to the educational programs that will turn them into skilled laborers.
You’ve likely heard that old saying, “If you want to get something done right, do it yourself.” This is certainly the case with mentorships. By offering one, you’ll be providing one or more individuals with hands-on training alongside your existing craft workers.
Mentorships are a slow and steady approach to growing the skilled labor force. But if every construction company offered just one, it could make a difference.
Set up or support a construction learning academy.
Rather than training one or two craft workers at a time via a mentorship, collaborate with other area contractors and interested parties (real estate developers, government agencies) to create a construction learning academy.
Granted, this is an ambitious step that will entail a substantial investment of time, money and energy. But doing so could make a long-term difference. If one of these academies already exists in your area or region, be sure to support it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just tap your smartphone or tablet a couple of times and find a skilled worker? Well, times have made this a little easier. In 2013, an online social network, Workhands, specifically designed for skilled construction labor, was launched.
Social networking can be tricky territory to navigate when trying to locate craft workers. You might find yourself spending a lot of time online with precious few results. Nonetheless, having a presence on WorkHands, as well as LinkedIn and Facebook, is important from a visibility standpoint.
The future of skilled labor really depends on the construction industry itself. Workforce shortages are prompting contractors to pay more to retain and recruit talent, as well as increase subcontractor use to complete projects. Ultimately, tight construction labor conditions will lead to higher construction costs while struggling to protect already thin margins.
Ignoring the problem will only make this worse. Get involved today, in a measured and cost-effective manner, you’ll likely be able to ease the strain of finding qualified craft workers in the years ahead.
This publication is distributed for informational purposes only, with the understanding that Doeren Mayhew is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional opinions on specific facts for matters, and, accordingly, assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Should the reader have any questions regarding any of the news articles, it is recommended that a Doeren Mayhew representative be contacted.
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