From a job seeker’s point of view, the construction labor shortage provides unprecedented levels of employment opportunities and job security. While this is great from the employee perspective, it has construction companies across the nation struggling to attract and retain the top talent they require. With everyone competing over the same talent pool, it’s time to think outside of the box and start sourcing from untapped talent pools.

Taking Candidate Sourcing To A New Level

Company culture, salary, benefits, internal people pipeline, and challenging yet fulfilling work are often the first thing HR professionals aim to improve to attract the attention of the candidates they require. While this timeless practice remains effective, it is simply not enough to fill all your open construction positions. Since the construction industry talent shortage is widespread, from entry level to executive, it is time for candidate sourcing to evolve.

There’s A Construciton Labor Shortage—It’s Time To Start Recruiting The Ladies

“We’ve seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you’ll join me as an unbridled optimist about America’s future.” Warren Buffett

Women still account for less than 10% of the workforce in construction, including in-office positions. Even with 20% of engineering graduates being female, only 11% of the engineering industry are women. It’s not that more women aren’t interested in pursuing AEC positions; it’s that most peruse other avenues because they aren’t getting calls for interviews, not even for internships or apprenticeships. Even with the current talent shortage, female candidates can’t find work in their area of study. Women who weren’t trained for skilled labor ran our factories, mills, and war plants during WWI, so just imagine what a passionate and trained candidate can achieve?

Universities and trades schools around the nation are boosting their recruitment of women in architecture, engineering, and construction, so it’s time our industry follow. As stated in the quote above, even Warren Buffett agrees!

Millennial—Bridging The Millennial Divide

Baby Boomers are retiring, which is one of the reasons we are facing a construction talent shortage. Nationwide, the number of 65+ retirees in the 4th quarter of 2016 rose by 800,000. As this mass exodus of Baby Boomers reaches a tipping point, many industries are left scrambling to fill the void. In the construction industry, this includes tenured executives, managers, and skilled labors.

While your internal pipeline will fill some of these positions, you will need to target the Millennial generation. Sometimes. Millennials are overlooked in construction, as there is concern about tenure, work ethic, and communication skills. While these concerns are valid, you have no choice but to bridge the gap. To capitalize on this underutilized talent pool, consider:

  • Young talent often has higher expectations for social responsibility, so highlight your charitable partnerships, energy-efficient building strategies, and consider offering LEED certification.
  • The traditional 9 to 5 workday is often less appealing to Millennials, as work/life balance is of higher priority. While you can do nothing about the inevitable long days required to meet your deadlines, attract more young talent by offering remote positions, flex-time, or other less-traditional workweeks.
  • To help bridge the communication gap, assign your Millennials with a Baby Boomer or Gen X mentor. This will keep the communication lines open and deliver the increased communication Millennials prefer. It will also help your tenured team to feel connected with your newcomers.
  • Offer innovative benefits—deliver lunch to the construction site once a week, provide mobile scheduling and HR tools or an in-house wellness program.

In-House Construction Apprenticeship Programs

If you don’t have an in-house construction apprenticeship program in place, now is the time to consider establishing one. While your apprenticeship program will not meet your immediate staffing needs, it strengthens your internal pipeline and allows you to groom your candidatures as you wish.

Apprentice programs are also an excellent way of developing the hard-working middle class. This is something we are passionate about at The Birmingham Group and consider apprenticeship to be workforce innovation at its finest. As of 2016, over half of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, with low to average job security and little hope for exceeding their current hourly wage.

By offering an apprenticeship program, you provide high school and college graduates and everyday Americans with an entry level career with above-average job security. There is also impressive room for promotion and financial growth. Build a loyal team of new hires to safeguard your business from the construction labor shortage. Achieve positive local branding, and boost your local economy by creating sustainable jobs. If setting up an apprenticeship program isn’t feasible, at least, build partnerships with your local vocational and trade schools. Don’t forget vocational high schools.

Sourcing untapped talent is an immediate method of facing the construction labor shortage. It will require innovative new ways of thinking, but innovation is what our industry is all about. If you want to learn more about how to rethink your construction recruiting, The Birmingham Group is always here to help you strategize.