CEG Industry Blog

Supporting Trade Programs: How Companies Can Help 

The labor is not superficial, and it has been an underlying problem decades in the making. So what has caused it?

📅   Mon October 23, 2017 - Edition
Megan Wild


Labor in the construction industry is still an issue. Even though the sector is growing, the shortage of workers – especially skilled workers – continues to cause significant problems.
Labor in the construction industry is still an issue. Even though the sector is growing, the shortage of workers – especially skilled workers – continues to cause significant problems.

Labor in the construction industry is still an issue. Even though the sector is growing, the shortage of workers – especially skilled workers – continues to cause significant problems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the 365 days leading up to March 2016, circa 25,000 jobs every month were created.

The labor is not superficial, and it has been an underlying problem decades in the making. So what has caused it? A Fannie Mae research study's findings show that individual and multi-family unit pipelines remain robust. Therefore, the shortage could be relative to the number of current and anticipated projects.

By 2020 for example, demand will be less. Therefore, labor should be cheaper and easier to resource. Human Resources and Labor Relations professor at Michigan State University Dale Belman says, “Some developers must say, 'You know, today's not the day to start this project.' You have to play the construction cycle if you want the pricing to really work.”

However, the construction industry labor shortage goes deeper than development cycles, as it's experienced on larger projects, too. This points to a lack of the skills required for more complex work. While demand for developments may have increased, there has been no intentional increase in available construction labor. The lack of union power has had some part to play, as since the 1960s, training programs have been on the decline.

The struggle is obviously not going to be resolved without a strategy, and given the urgency of finding a solution, a multi-pronged strategy would be advisable. The solution lies in companies supporting trade and technical schools starting as early as high school to ensure students are interested in pursuing careers in the trades. Take a look at the following tips:

Create a Good First Impression

The much-discussed “employee experience” is real and is not going away. Competition for talent does come down to your company's branding and how it engages entry-level students. This means creating a welcoming atmosphere for them at university days or high school fairs, speaking their language through media-rich presentations and tailoring each event's branding to the audience.

Showing students you genuinely care means not treating employees anonymously or as if they're disposable. Highlight the training opportunities within construction and show that they would be personalized to each new recruit.

Introduce Pre-Hiring Assessments

Implementing a rigorous and standardized screening process is imperative to bring in high-caliber future employees as well as setting a precedent to all applicants. Your company is on a mission, and students should want to be part of it.

Develop Internship Partnerships

As a construction company, your opportunities within the academic and industry fields are numerous. National organizations offer vocational education, or you can approach local schools, high schools or universities to encourage partnerships to help train your future employees. Internships are a fantastic route to a skilled workforce of tomorrow, as demonstrated by the Riggs CAT Think Big program.

Improve In-House Training

As stated above, training opportunities and progression are all-important to potential employees with ambition. Incorporating regular progress assessments to legitimately promote and advance labor is a major incentive to employees. Understanding that an employer recognizes efforts and rewards them will more than likely keep labor productive and less likely to leave.

Do Not Underrate Safety

To lend yourself to both academic and industry partners with the aim of attracting and training new skilled labor, you need to ensure your company's safety program is second to none. Create a culture based on safety to attract students who could be dubious about entering a trade career because of potential physical risks. This also reiterates how committed your company is to employee welfare and overall employee satisfaction.

The labor shortage will not be solved overnight. However, while demand is high for both projects and skilled employees, as a company, you can balance both as well as prepare for the next few years. Branding your company, creating a company that prides itself on safety, employee training and development and building industry and academic partnerships will help you overcome the labor shortage.