As someone who comes from a long line of construction workers, and the parent to three Millennials, the construction industry perceptions hit close to home. Because I am able to sit back and look at the construction industry from someone else’s point of view, I see that construction related careers are being woefully under represented. I’m sure this is why the construction industry is desperate to fill jobs, and people just aren’t beating down the doors to get in. It’s time for construction companies to start understanding and connecting with the Millennial talent pool.
It All Starts in School
I have watched my children go through school, and every step of the way being told they have to prepare for college. Colleges recruit at almost every high school across the United States. There would be program after program of colleges speaking at my children’s school, to inform them, and their parents, how their school was somehow better than the other. The construction trades were almost nonexistent in representation. There was little information about career choices or opportunities in construction and nobody ever came to the school to talk about it.
This is the Way it is
Colleges certainly know how to get prospective student excited about attending their school. They not only show them all the glitzy stuff, they show them what is offered and what is expected. Construction companies should take a page out of that book. Leaders in the industry have improved their recruiting efforts but there is much more to be done.
The days of just dropping by the office and filling out an application, or simply getting the job because you Dad works there are long over. Construction companies need to get out of their comfort zone and reach out to this younger generation and show them what the industry has to offer and where it’s headed.
Job value has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Millennials are slaves to the technology that they grew up with and find it hard to see the worth in a finished product. They see companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, who offer, what seems to be a never ending supply of services, and that’s what they view as success. Millennials want positions in those kind of companies so badly, they are willing to take absolutely any job available. That type of job value is starting to leak into the older generation’s view of success as well. Working for a brand is looked on more favorably than to create something. The construction industry needs to get involved with Millennials to let them know what the industry has to offer in regards to technology.
How do we Fix it?
There are many things the construction industry can do to rectify this situation. It requires companies to start thinking outside of the box.
Long term posting on news sites and job sites is a great place to start. It will consistently attract talent to your company. But sitting back and letting the prospective hires come to you just isn’t enough anymore. Proactive recruiting techniques must be put into action. Construction companies need to get into the schools and with the young people. They need to give information in an interesting way and have many question and answer formats. By getting young people interested, your company will have a lot of skilled labor coming your way. The actual hiring process will be streamlined if you have workshops to gather applications all at once. Become part of the community and stay interacted. Millennials are all about connections.
If your company isn’t putting any resources into social media, you are missing out on the biggest tool used today to reach potential workers. Having a web site is vital, and it needs to be captivating and informative. Have it interactive and where they can not only fill out an application, but upload their resume and cover letter. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are must have now. It gets information out there about your company in a positive way and humanizes you. You’re not just some untouchable corporation and that is important to Millennials. Job fairs, career days, Old Home day, fairs, festivals, etc., are great ways to meet and greet and get some fantastic leads.
Another way to get your construction companies name out there is sponsoring a team. From kindergarten to high school, students wear shirts for sports with sponsor’s names and logos on them. Believe it or not they remember those names. Get involved with the teams, volunteer when you can. Look into charitable events. Have team members from you company participate as a group and raise money for worthy causes.
There is a large skilled labor shortage, but that doesn’t have to be the case. The workers are out there, you just have to find them. You might find someone who has literally everything you are looking for in a prospective worker, but lacks some of the skills needed for the job. Don’t lose them, hire them and give them the training necessary to excel in their position. That’s the employee that will strive to do a better job and advance in the company.
Have an open mind when looking to hire new workers, be willing to train the right candidates, get out in the community and make connections and get into high schools and colleges and show them what the construction industry has to offer.