Post-Great Recession, construction demand is up — way up. But with growth comes challenges, and in the case of the booming construction industry, a big challenge is attracting new talent.
The construction industry faces a steep uphill battle to attract the younger crowd — it’s not an especially glamorous profession. Plus, in 2017, 20.4 million high school graduates attended two- and four-year universities after graduation instead of entering the workforce, leaving high-paying skilled trades jobs open.
Despite the difficulties of attracting new talent, to guarantee long-term success, it’s essential to bring the younger generation on board. Give Millennials and up-and-coming Gen Zers a different perspective on one of the most important industries in the U.S. with these strategies.
Attracting new talent in the construction industry
Competitive compensation packages
In a competitive industry like construction, your compensation packages have to stand out above the rest.
Of course, offering a living wage (and then some) is a must to get young people’s boots on the ground. Do research on your geographical area to understand the cost of living in the new economy, taking into account rent, student loans, and vehicle payments — things younger people are regularly burdened with.
These extra cherries on top can help seal the deal:
- 401(k) matching (the national average is 3.5%)
- Pension plan
- Comfortable per diem for traveling workers
- Relocation reimbursement
- Raises, bonuses, and incentives
- Group health benefits
When entering the workforce, your less experienced employees want to know they’ll have the tools to succeed in your organization. In fact, 30% of Millennials said they’d take a pay cut to work at a company that has good mentorship opportunities.
Identify a handful of natural leaders within your organization to take new hires under their wing. When you’re advertising a job opening, be clear that your company offers support and guidance during onboarding and beyond — it’ll help potential employees make the decision to choose your company over others (who might throw them into the deep end).
Mentorship programs don’t have to start after hiring, either. Consider connecting with local high schools and technology centers to participate in or help launch an educational program for students interested in the trade. Getting kids interested in construction early is a fool-proof way to show them the benefits of the profession, and hopefully help them remember your company when they’re ready to enter the workforce.
Don’t gloss over candidates
Construction workers aren’t carbon copies of one another. Some could swing a hammer for eight hours a day, some live for reading schematics and plans, and some would gladly spend all their time crunching numbers. Since the construction industry needs so many different skills, avoid turning down an interested candidate just because they don’t have the “right” experience or check all your boxes.
Stick to requiring basic skill sets like reading, writing, basic math, and computer operation. Soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and decisiveness should also be listed as “preferred.” You can keep things that simple — if you have a young person willing to learn, they’ll pick up necessary technical skills down the line.
“Hire slow, fire fast,” doesn’t apply in industries like construction that are fighting for talent. If you follow the age-old mantra, you run the risk of your best candidates slipping right through your fingers. Younger candidates — especially the cream of the crop — won’t wait around for your phone call and emails. Remember, other construction firms will be interviewing the same people that you are.
To keep young potentials on the line, let them know exactly when they’ll hear back. And, more importantly, stick to the timeline you promised. If you fail there, they’ll not only move on, but they’ll tell others in their network that you didn’t meet their expectations.
Need a hand on your next construction project? Get in touch with our EHS experts to see how we can keep your operations running safely and smoothly.
Related reading: Three Best Pieces of Advice for EHS Managers in the Construction Industry