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Take the Pressure off Recruiting with a Focus on Workforce Development

Leaders in the construction industry have shared their desperation with the lack of skilled labor. They state, “We can’t find the people we need to meet the current demand!” The problem may lie with the talent available, or there might be other factors to consider. Leaders need to take the pressure off recruiting with a focus on workforce development.

From March of 2006 to the end of 2016, total construction spending is over $1.2 trillion, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job availability at this point are higher than they have been in the past 10 years. In 2011, unemployment rose to 13.3 percent, yet in 2016 it stands at only 5.2 percent.

Construction industry wages have increased 4.3 percent in the last year. While the increase is much needed, the productivity of the American worker has steadily decrease, down 6 percent last year. Construction company owners have seen shrinking profits due to the decrease in productivity and the steadily rising wages, down 2.1 percent in 2016. Unfortunately, construction companies need to focus on regulating their costs to slow the declining profits, instead of continuing to invest more.

A construction company owner needs to look at the basis for the productivity problem. The industry is seeing the largest group of highly skilled workers retire than ever before. Those workers need to be replaced and the talent is being taken out of a pool of Generation X and Millennials that don’t have anywhere near the experience or skills of the people they are replacing.

It is estimated that the construction industry will be short five million workers by the year 2020, according to a report by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Younger, less experienced workers will have to be hired to fill the jobs available.

A huge percent of construction companies will be hiring new workers in 2017, as well as having to add additional jobs due to an increase in the construction industry, according to AGC of America Construction Spending and Business Outlook. Industry leaders realize that their number one concern will be finding the skilled talent they need to help their companies continue to grow. By offering increased pay, changing the way the industry is perceived, and investing in the amazing new technology available, construction companies will be able to hire competent new workers.

Organizations have spent great deal of time and money showing the public what a career in the construction industry really is. They have reached out to parents, educators, colleges and children to show the different positive aspects of the industry. While this has driven some exceptional talent towards the industry, the costs for safety, productivity and training have continued to rise as the construction industry is losing a huge chunk of it’s experienced workers to retirement.

Construction companies are trying to stay on top of the changes and according to a study by the AGC of America, half of the contractors they surveyed said their number one priority in 2017 was to invest in more training for their workers. The companies need to fix the huge skill gap that will continue to grow as we lose more talent.

Companies need to apply new strategies to fix the productivity problems that are arising. Owners need to be open to feedback from all employees, offer unlimited training and career development opportunities and encourage upward mobility within the company to retain the highly skilled workers.

Offering unlimited training and career development has been proven to increase each workers performance by more than 40 percent. Employees feel connected to the company, and therefore reduces turnover rates. A more satisfied employee will produce happier customer,s which in turn will increase the companies revenue.

As more construction companies take on this approach to hiring new talent, they will enjoy keeping highly skilled labor that produces more. Safety issues will decrease and therefore save money. By investing in training and career development the companies revenue will be multiplied five times, based on studies by Hay Group.

Construction company owners can no longer just hire a worker and expect them to exceed expectations. Leaders must provide the training needed to to excel at jobs the industry so desperately needs to fill. There is a shortage of new hires and by opening it up to a broader group of possible talent, the industry will find workers that shine in their positions with the right kind of training and support.

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