The culture around construction employment has made a dramatic shift in recent years. As baby boomers begin to retire and with millennials now making up 35% of the workforce, many general contractors are wondering how to make their organization more attractive to younger workers that don’t see construction as a fulfilling career choice.
A skill gap in the construction industry isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A relatively small gap in the demand and supply is a good indicator of a growing industry and allows workers to change jobs to further their careers. On the other hand, too many job openings in relation to the available workers leads to difficulty filling positions, and the pipeline for workers is falling behind the demand.
In a survey done by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) it was found that 80% of contractors are having difficulty finding skilled workers. This difficulty is amplified by the urgency of replacing an aging workforce that is moving towards retirement.
In this article we’re going to explore different ways you can use your data to help reduce your skills gap.
Understand your skill gaps
No one can understand the specific skills you need to close your skill gaps better than you can. If you are in need of skilled workers it’s important to highlight the specific skills and experience you’re looking for. If you’re using a construction workforce management tool that allows you to track experience and skills, take the time to analyze your team’s data to understand exactly what your existing expectations are for specific roles in your organization.
A report by Burning Glass Technologies, a labor market analytics provider, indicates that the construction industry has actually had more supply than demand when it comes to skilled workers over the past few years. That supply to demand ratio, however, has diminished year after year. Part of the problem is that organizations will often demand skill sets and experience instead of offering training and experiential learning. Everyone wants to hire the “best of the best”, but often candidates that qualify for positions will be overlooked because the demands exceed that of the existing qualifications of the current team.
We live in an experience-based economy and that mindset gets carried over into how and where we choose to work. General contractors that invest in providing experience for candidates rather than demanding it are more likely to retain high performance individuals in the long run.
Create a path for career success
This will start with company culture. Your organization should put an emphasis on engaging employees with opportunities for new training, experiential learning, and mentorship programs. Your organization should also clearly define roles, responsibilities, and qualifications for employees as they work their way up through the company.
Where does data come into play? Tracking experience with insight into project history will allow you to stay ahead of opportunities for career advancement. It’s great to have employees interested and asking about new opportunities within the company, but it’s even better for your company culture if those opportunities are being offered from the top down. Pay attention to employees that have been consistently performing at a high level. Adversely, identify team members that may feel “stuck in a rut” when looking at their project history.
By addressing your team’s experience and placing an emphasis on growth and development, employees will be more likely to engage in their organizational culture. This will help to change the perception of working in the construction industry, and more specifically, your company.
Understand your hiring trends
This can be one of the most difficult trends to predict given the dynamic nature of construction projects and the industry as a whole. Too often the recruitment process is reactionary to immediate project needs. Construction workforce management tools that offer insight into your workforce utilization into the future will help to forecast future staffing needs.
You should aim to identify areas in coming months, or even years, that your team is spread too thin. Identifying these areas early will give you ample time to begin the recruitment process for your required roles. It also provides you with enough time to potentially train candidates or current team members to take on required roles.
Your insight into workforce utilization will also help to identify times when your company can take on more work. Often these gaps can lead to periodic layoffs for team members, which can often lead to employees understandably seeking work elsewhere. However, these gaps in productivity are also opportunities to provide new training and mentorships to high performing individuals to keep them engaged with your organization through down times.
Bridgit Bench is the leading construction workforce management solution. It is customizable to company needs and will allow you to track any relevant workforce data that can help to reduce your skill gaps. It also provides insight into your workforce utilization and capacity planning to help to make informed decisions about recruitment needs.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.
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