1/9/2018: Author – Kim Slowey@kimslowey
Optimism about the economic future of the construction industry is high, and employers expect to increase their payrolls in the coming year and beyond, according to the Associated General Contractors of America — but no one is really sure where the labor to support all that activity is going to come from.
And while the attention has largely focused on how hard it is to find skilled craft workers like carpenters, construction companies are also struggling to fill open slots for positions such as superintendents and project managers. It is for those jobs where some in the industry turn to professional recruiters.
Recruiters count both candidates and construction companies among their clients and work to arrange the best matches between the two. But, according to industry experts, that sounds simpler than it is.
“It’s tough because good candidates aren’t out there looking for a job,” said Brian Binke, CEO and president of Detroit-area recruiting firm The Birmingham Group.
Binke chalked up the tight supply to the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and to the lack of programs in high schools that might spark an interest in the construction industry as a career.
“A lot of companies got lean and mean or went out of business [during the recession],” he said. “At the same time, kids don’t see [construction] as a fun industry. Young people don’t know if they’re good at it or not because they’re not exposed to it.”
Binke said when kids are exposed to classes like woodworking or metal working, which used to be mandatory in many high schools, they learned whether or not they had a talent for working with tools. If so, the construction industry was an appealing option for a career.