Addressing the Construction Workforce Shortage: A Guide for Hiring Managers

June 22, 2023

As we navigate through 2023, the construction industry is experiencing a paradoxical situation. On one hand, the industry is booming with an abundance of projects, but on the other hand, there’s a significant shortage of skilled workers to execute these projects. This situation presents a unique challenge for hiring managers in construction firms across the country.

The construction industry is a critical component of the American economy, and its health is often seen as a barometer for the overall state of economic activity. Currently, the industry is showing signs of robust growth. However, this growth is being hampered by a shortage of skilled workers.

The count of open construction jobs jumped to a record-high 449,000 unfilled positions in April, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the highest measure in the history of the data series

The question then arises – where are the workers?

The shortage of construction workers is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors. These include an aging workforce, a lack of interest among younger generations in construction careers, and a skills gap due to technological advancements in the industry.

  1. Aging Workforce: The construction industry, like many others, is facing the challenge of an aging workforce. Many skilled workers are reaching retirement age, and there aren’t enough new workers entering the field to replace them. This is leading to a significant reduction in the available workforce. Additionally, as these experienced workers retire, they take with them years of acquired skills and knowledge, which can be difficult to replace.
  2. Lack of Interest Among Younger Generations: Many younger individuals are choosing careers in fields like technology and healthcare over construction. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including the perception of construction work as physically demanding and dangerous, or the misconception that construction jobs do not offer good career progression or stability. There’s also a societal push towards obtaining a four-year college degree, which often leads young people away from trades and vocational careers like construction.
  3. Skills Gap Due to Technological Advancements: The construction industry has seen significant technological advancements in recent years. From the use of drones for site surveys to advanced software for project management, the face of construction is changing. While these advancements can increase efficiency and safety, they also require new skill sets. If current workers are not trained in these new technologies, or if new workers do not enter the field with these skills, it can lead to a skills gap. This gap can further exacerbate the workforce shortage, as there may be jobs available that simply cannot be filled due to a lack of qualified candidates.

How Can Hiring Managers Attract and Retain Skilled Workers

As a hiring manager in the construction industry, it’s crucial to develop strategies to attract and retain skilled workers. Here are five tips to help you navigate this challenging landscape:

  1. Promote the Industry: Work with local schools and community organizations to promote the benefits of a career in construction. Highlight the potential for good wages, the satisfaction of creating tangible projects, and the wide range of roles available.
  2. Invest in Training: Provide training opportunities for both new hires and existing staff. This not only helps to address the skills gap but also shows your employees that you’re invested in their professional development.
  3. Offer Competitive Wages and Benefits: To attract skilled workers, your compensation package needs to be competitive. This includes not just wages, but also benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
  4. Create a Positive Work Culture: A supportive and inclusive work culture can be a significant draw for potential employees. Foster a culture that values teamwork, offers opportunities for growth, and recognizes the hard work of your employees.
  5. Leverage Technology: Embrace the digital transformation in the construction industry. Utilize technology in your recruitment process and on the job site. This can make your company more attractive to tech-savvy younger generations.

While the construction industry is facing a workforce shortage, there are strategies that hiring managers can employ to attract and retain skilled workers. By promoting the industry, investing in training, offering competitive compensation, fostering a positive work culture, and leveraging technology, you can help to build a strong and skilled workforce for your firm.

We recognize the challenges facing the construction industry and know that each company has its own unique needs. Consequently, we partner with each client to design and deliver a cost-effective, customized solution to assist our client in achieving their desired goals.

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