It’s becoming increasingly challenging to recruit skilled labor employees, especially in the construction industry. A recent industry survey found that two-thirds of American contractors say it’s difficult to find qualified craft workers to join their team. In another report, 93% of professionals in the industry say they believe their business would grow, if not for the multitude of hiring struggles.

There are many layers to the skilled labor shortage. One is an aging workforce — 1.1 million construction workers are expected to retire in the next 10 years, which will create a dearth of employees. Another is that the industry still falls behind when it comes to gender and racial diversity, which can discourage young people from pursuing a career in construction. Finally, there remains a stigma around skilled labor positions, and most Millennials are encouraged to pursue a college education rather than one of the thousands of positions available in the construction industry.

The skilled labor shortage affects the construction industry as a whole, but disproportionately impacts smaller construction companies that often have less of a competitive advantage to lure and retain skilled workers.

As such, it’s more important than ever for small construction companies to take proactive steps towards attracting skilled labor employees. Here’s how they can do it.


Improve Corporate Culture

Construction industry stereotypes have people envisioning a starkly decorated lunchroom filled with men eating their food from metal lunch boxes. The industry needs to improve its corporate culture image, and this is an area where smaller, more agile companies can lead the charge.

In the construction industry, effective corporate culture can come in the form of greater transparency when it comes to health and safety measures for employees; it can be open lines of communication between a shift supervisor and their team; it can be having a comfortable space for employees to take their break.

Positive corporate culture is an excellent way for smaller companies to gain a competitive advantage, especially if they can’t offer as high a wage as larger employers. However you choose to improve your corporate culture, make sure it’s emphasized during the recruitment and hiring process.

Offer Training

Professional development opportunities can also fall under the umbrella of corporate culture. No matter the industry, training is an excellent way to retain existing employees and attract new hires.

Training can come in the form of lunchtime guest speakers, on the job training, safety training, online courses, and more. In an industry where skilled laborers often jump from contract to contract, offering training and opportunities for employees to improve their skills — even for shorter term employees – will make a difference in your ability to attract those team members.

This will benefit the company, too. The Construction Industry Institute estimates that a company that invests in training will have a $3 return on investment for every dollar spent.

Do Outreach

While the trades may have been considered a viable career in the past, the high school students of today are looking less towards jobs in skilled labor. This relates to a decline in vocational trades programs across the country. In California, school districts have already eliminated up to 90% of vocational programs, which include disciplines such as woodworking.

This is a long term game, but if small companies want to be really proactive, they should arrange to give presentations to students about the value of and need for skilled labor employees. This may persuade more students to consider a career in the trades, and eventual employment with the small company that first piqued their interest.

No matter the size of your company, you can always take advantage of human resources, talent management, employee development and recruitment tools by getting in touch with BirdDogHR today.