Get Innovative to Fill the Construction Industry Labor and Skills Gaps

The challenges surrounding the labor shortage aren't going away, meaning construction businesses will need to find innovative solutions to address them.

The struggles construction firms have had attracting and retaining qualified workers have been persistent throughout much of the economic recovery and there’s little end in sight. With the industry expected to remain largely stable in 2020 — barring any unforeseen shocks — it means the challenges surrounding labor will continue and contractors will need to find innovative solutions to address them. Here are a few suggestions:

Seek Out Veterans

Surprisingly, many construction firms have yet to tap into the available pool of military veterans. Their training, teamwork mindset and discipline can prove invaluable on a jobsite. And many offer heavy equipment experience, mechanical skills, engineering and/or surveying experience, leadership skills and more. If you aren’t already working with your local veterans administration or other resources to promote job opportunities to this employee pool, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Read more: Military Veterans in Demand for Careers in Construction

Use Social Media

When it comes to attracting younger workers, it’s important to meet them “where they live.” They can be found online and on apps, so expand your hiring efforts to the platforms they are using. Market your business and any job openings on LinkedIn and Indeed but also consider using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or even Snapchat to broaden your reach. Use appealing images, graphics and videos to catch and keep their attention long enough to tout the rewards of construction careers .

Read more: How Contractors Can Capitalize on Social Media to Attract Workers

Look Beyond Traditional Roles

Construction continues to be a male-dominated industry, yet women make up roughly half the U.S. workforce. There are plenty of women out there eager to build a rewarding career. It’s just a matter of fostering awareness of the opportunities and giving them a chance to try new skills, whether in the office or in the field.

For that matter, maintain an open mind about anyone who may not fit the standard profile of a construction worker as long as they have a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. But be sure to counteract any potential problems by providing diversity training for existing employees as needed.

Read more: A How-to Guide for Recruiting Women to Construction Careers

Investigate Labor Replacers/Enhancers

Mechanization and technology could address labor gaps and enhance the productivity of your existing workforce. Start by encouraging crews to evaluate specific tasks and to suggest options that could help them do these tasks more efficiently. For example, could renting a piece of equipment free up laborers for more critical jobs, or investing in technology enable one person to do a job instead of two? The solutions could be as simple as downloading an app to monitor time spent on tasks or as extensive as acquiring a GPS-equipped dozer to reduce rework while grading.

Explore the options and calculate the costs vs. your current processes and staffing requirements. You may just find a solution that is more efficient plus can keep your business going even if the resumes aren’t flowing in