by Bob France
With the economy heating up and a potential shortage of workforce in the commercial construction industry looming large, it is important for us to develop a new mindset about recruiting, attracting and educating prospective construction workers.
Why should we focus on this right now?
As the new administration launches its public infrastructure projects, the demand for a construction workforce is going to increase further. With unemployment at a historic low, it is already difficult to find talented workers in commercial construction. Many construction workers, who suffered during the last recession, have moved or are in the process of moving to the fast-growing energy sector.
In addition, the younger generation especially millennials don’t view the construction industry as an attractive career option. One of the fastest growing sources of workforce in the United States has been women in recent years, but they hardly consider construction industry as a career.
So, what should we do?
First, we must actively educate young college kids about how lucrative the construction industry is in terms of compensation and overall environment. Gone are the days when everything was done and moved manually at a construction sites. Now, a lot of things are being done by machines and technology. The industry needs smart, tech savvy workers. We must also confront the reality that the current higher education model doesn’t expose students to skilled trades such as the construction industry. There is a lot of pressure in our current educational climate for students with technical and vocational gifts to pursue higher education in a classroom and not venture beyond the confines of book learning. In losing these students, our industry suffers.
We also need to educate women and highlight opportunities that are suitable for women—whether on a work site or in the office of a general contractor. Construction industry should launch a broad and comprehensive campaign to attract the young talent, and offer internship opportunities. We must also extend these outreach efforts to our immigrant workforce as well.
At Senate Construction, we have already taken an active role on this front. Last summer, we hired Joseph Grullon, who was pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Fitchburg State University, as a full-time summer intern. This year, we offered him a full-time and permanent position as a Project Superintendent, and he has joined our growing team. We are excited to guide and educate the younger generation.