Why Isn’t the Construction Industry Marketed?

Mon June 09, 2014 - National Edition
Giles Lambertson



Marketing is, in a word, promotion. The time has come for the construction industry to start promoting itself.

Builders can’t sell their services to government and private sector project owners, of course. Owners seek bids when they are ready to build and not before. For several years now, they haven’t been ready.

However, what the construction industry can do is sell itself to a new generation of laborers. An estimated two million construction jobs were lost during the recession and as few as 10 percent of those men and women are expected to return when jobs finally become available again.

We all know the industry faces a crisis in terms of having enough qualified people to run machinery and pick up all the loose ends of a construction project. We know that but what is the industry doing about it—besides grumbling and wringing hands?

Anyone who has worked in construction for a summer or a career will testify of two things: (1) It is hard work, which is to say it can be physically demanding and tiring, and (2) it is satisfying work. Like most blue-collar or white-collar careers, construction work will not generate vast personal wealth, but it is more remunerative than a lot of professional labor.

In short, construction is an appealing work. So where is the TV, radio, print and online marketing of it? Where are the snappy slogans to capture attention of short-attention-span browsers? (The industry will need some help in this department: Its acronym and motto-creators don’t know snappy.) Other industries market themselves—we are too good to emulate them?

A construction career is salable. A consortium of AGC, ABC, ASA and other industry leaders should pool their resources to sell it, to tout the work, to solicit apprenticeship and training program participants. The worker shortage is a looming crisis. An ongoing marketing campaign could reduce it to a problem.