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Workforce woes

December 4, 2015 Article 2 min read
Laura Claeys

The war for talent is raging across a number of industries as unemployment continues to drop and the economy rebounds.According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction employment has climbed to the highest levels since February 2009, but the number of unemployed workers with construction experience has shrunk to a 14-year low.

Where did all the talent go?

During the economic downturn, many skilled professionals sought outopportunities in new industries with no desire to return to construction,given its volatility. Additionally, a large percentage of the workforce, the“boomer generation,” is retiring, and younger generations are lured toseemingly more exciting industries, such as media and technology.Attracting qualified talent is a hurdle many organizations face, but it’sexceptionally difficult for construction companies due to misconceptionsabout the industry. While Generation X may have concerns about thestability of the industry in light of the most recent recession, Millennialsdon’t know the jobs and roles available, or the potential earning power the industry presents.

How do you solve this issue?

How do you attract — and retain — talent? The answer lies with three investments.

  1. Invest in the future workforce. 
    Younger generations don’t have the same exposure to the constructionindustry as previous generations. School budget cuts lead to lesselective courses, and college-prep classes often outweigh tradeprograms. By investing time and money in trade organizations, visitingschools, and holding seminars on the opportunities in construction,you can demystify some of the common misconceptions. Not onlywill this investment train and nurture future talent, but your name willbe recognizable when future generations enter the workforce. Beingrecognized as a supporter of education will also aide in public relations.The public opinion of your company can be important for winningfuture job bids and, ultimately, can impact your valuation.
  2. Invest in your culture. 
    Talented employees who are happy with their organization, and whofeel they are valued, are excellent recruiting resources for other greattalent. While you may not have the exciting perks of a technology firm,you can cultivate a culture for success, entrepreneurship, and the pridethat comes from building something that everyone can see. Companypicnics, team building activities, and financial incentives such as anEmployee Stock Ownership Plan will keep your employees motivatedand happy. Social media promotion of successful or high-profileprojects can also boost employee pride and company morale.
  3. Invest in staff development. 
    If someone can’t envision a future at your company, they won’t belikely to stay. Clearly articulate the career paths and growth potentialfor each of your staff members, and support continued education andtraining. Your staff will feel supported and have a sense of belonging.Defined career paths and training opportunities serve a dual purposeas they are also key elements in succession planning, ensuring thefuture success of your company.

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