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Tips to ‘Remedy’ Construction Labor Shortage

The retiring of Baby Boomers is challenging industries across the country to find new ways to attract and retain qualified skilled workers. In Minnesota, one industry suffering from a labor shortage is construction.

When the 2008 recession hit, construction work slowed and trade workers were laid off. Many turned to different careers, and those who did tough it out through the housing bust are now retiring.

Today, employers are struggling to find younger workers with the same skillsets as the past generation. Paired with a reduction in shop classes offered during high school and stigmas associated with jobs in the trades, fewer young people are even aware of or have an interest in pursuing a career as a trade professional.

There is real concern over the potential impacts the labor shortage could have on the construction industry. Besides an increase in project completion time, the shortage could delay the start of new projects altogether. According to Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development data, the industry will be short around 20,000 construction workers over the next 10 years.

But there are six tips companies can take to “remedy” the construction labor shortage and help “avoid the strain” it brings, according to Ground Break Carolinas. Has your company come up with other solutions to tackle the shortage? Let us know! Email info@AmericanExperiment.org with “Great Jobs” in the subject line.

1. Know Your Busy Season

One of the easiest ways to stay competitive is to know when your busy season is. If your busy season starts in summer, then you should post the job in spring. This way you have a couple of months to interview potential hires before you’re strapped for employees. You can choose the best candidate and be selective, rather than taking whoever. Since you have time to vet potential candidates by hiring early. Also, hiring sooner gives you the ability to train the trade workers on how your business works.

2. Clarity in Position

Another easy way to stay competitive during the construction labor shortage is in your job postings. Specifically, clarity to the position you’re hiring for. The more information about the job, the more likely you are to get the right candidate. You will have to sift through resumes from candidates you’re not interested in if a job posting is too vague and doesn’t offer enough information. A job posting is also a great place to offer insight into what you’re looking for in a candidate, your minimum requirements, your preferences, and what it’s like to work at the company.

3. Showcase Reasons to Work at Your Company

Potential applicants should know why they should work at your company. More young people are looking for companies that offer a work-life balance, competitive pay, and benefits. The best way to showcase why trade workers should work for you is to use social media to portray what it’s like to work for your company. If you have holiday barbecues, Christmas parties, and paid time off, advertise these qualities to potential trade workers.

People want to work for companies that will appreciate them, not just offer competitive pay. Company culture is especially important during the construction labor shortages. Trade workers will look for other opportunities if they’re not fully satisfied with their position, the company, or any other reason. And in this construction labor shortage, it’s important to showcase why skilled trade workers should choose you over other opportunities.

4. Apprenticeships

Offering apprenticeship positions and pairing with local trade schools is a great way to beat the construction labor shortage. Not only does it allow you to give back to your community, but you get extra temporary labor. And if the apprentice works well with your crew and has skills and character traits you want in an employee, you can hire them on full-time. This gives you a leg up on other companies looking for trade workers in this construction labor shortage. Internships are also a positive way to groom employees into becoming part of your business.

5. Pay Employees for Referrals

Employee referrals are a great way to find candidates. Employees are likely to refer friends from trade school, or they know from old jobs. And the employees will probably feel responsible for the friends they refer because if their referral isn’t a match or doesn’t work out, it will reflect on them. So employees will only refer trade workers they want to work with who are qualified. Employee referrals give you a highlighted group of individuals to choose from who have been recommended. And by using creative incentives, people are more likely to refer qualified candidates giving you a leg up on the construction labor shortage.

6. Use Technology

Technology is a quick and easy way to be able to mitigate issues that you face with the construction labor shortage. Project management software specifically can help keep the field and office informed and improve overall productivity.

So long as unemployment is low, it will be very hard for all businesses to fill positions. It’s especially hard in the construction industry as roughly 2 million skilled trade workers left the field due to the recession and most high schools de-emphasized trade training. It’s up to construction companies to stay competitive during the labor shortage. Through showcasing what your company has to offer and beginning the hiring process early, you’ll be able to attract the right trade workers at the right time this year.

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