For many reasons, construction companies are facing an urgent need to upskill their labor forces. The construction industry currently has massive labor issues. The Sage and AGC’s 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report found 54% of respondents reported challenges when it came to recruiting and retaining workers and almost 50% stated finding qualified workers was their number one challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help the labor situation either. The pandemic prompted owners to delay or cancel projects, costing the construction industry more than 975,000 jobs last April, according to a survey by the Association of General Contractors (AGC). The uncertainty about future projects likely has also affected workers, causing many to jump ship from construction altogether. But there are other reasons for the lack of available skilled labor.
Why are there so few workers?
- Baby Boomers Are Retiring: AGC’s research found that more than 10,000 of the 81 million Baby Boomers in the US are retiring every single day. Currently, Baby Boomers represent 41% of the construction workforce and those that are sticking aroundare going to retire in the next 10 years. Once this generation has left the workforce, the construction industry will be facing a significant skills gap in the talent pool.
- Young People Aren’t Going into Construction: More young people are choosing to pursue a degree post-graduation instead of going straight into the workforce. According to a federal report, the US will have 3.4 million unfilled skilled technical jobs by 2022 as more young people are choosing higher education over learning technical skills. · Turnover Increase: Turnover is on the rise in the wake of the pandemic. Nearly 4 million people quit their jobs last April, the highest quit rate since the metric has been recorded. Even though high turnover hurts employers, experts believe it’s a sign of a strong labor market where workers feel confident about seeking better opportunities.
- Increased Competition: A shrinking labor pool is not only putting a crunch on the construction industry, but many different businesses, forcing employers to compete for workers. There simply aren’t enough workers to go around and employers are stepping up their games to attract top talent.
Adopting technology that supports recruiting and upskilling employees can give construction companies an edge in the upcoming war for talent.
Technology for External Recruiting
External recruiting plays a big part in building a deep construction talent pool. Growing companies must recruit to stay viable, especially in construction where more hands equal more work completed. External recruiting practices include posting to multiple job boards and on social media channels plus creating relationships with local schools, community groups, faith-based organizations and veterans organizations as well as attendng job fairs and seeking referrals. This is a lot to manage. An applicant tracking system (ATS) can simplify this entire process.
An ATS not only integrates with your careers page, but once job descriptions are uploaded, an ATS can automatically post them to multiple job boards and social media and track your referrals.
An ATS can also filter candidate applications so you get applicants from more than just warm bodies. You get applications from individuals with the potential to be your ideal employees. An ATS lets you set parameters for the application process so only candidates who meet the minimum requirements can apply for a specific position.
Plus, an automated process lets managers track and report on all applicants, including those who weren’t hired for the position, essential for construction companies which must document compliance with hiring requirements for federal contractors or EEO employers.
Technology for Upskilling Your Construction Labor Force
Another solution to a shrinking labor pool is to re-skill the employees you have, instead of trying to always recruit and hire new ones. Employers should consider creating an internal talent marketplace that provides employees with alternative career pathways and internal mobility. This means construction companies need to be in tune with future projects and new skills needed and create succession plans for key workers as they retire or transition into new roles.
A strong learning plan provides employees with increased competence and job satisfaction, bolstering retention and company loyalty, ultimately providing higher rates of innovation and increased satisfaction. But how that training is done matters, especially for construction employees. Studies show more employees, especially from younger generations, want to learn independently in a personalized fashion. In fact, 43% of Gen Z’ers say they want fully self-directed and independent on-the-job learning. Online and virtual-based training, like that provided within a learning management system (LMS), along with practical worksite training with demonstrations, hands-on and on the job training, can help fill those gaps. An LMS makes it easy to provide and track training completions and certifications for compliance, specifically safety.
Safety training is one area where providing both online and hands-on training just makes sense. Crew members go through online classes, like those provided by ClickSafety, then they go out to the job site and get hands-on training with either the site superintendent or the supervisor foreman. The one-on-one training, in addition to online courses, ensures employees get the training right, which could mean the difference between a safe job site and one riddled with accidents. According to OSHA, about 20% (1,061) of worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2019 were in construction, accounting for one in five worker deaths for the year.
Benefits of Online Training
Using an LMS for online training provides multiple benefits for both the employee and the employer. First, both have significant control over the learning process. Employers can assign the courses they want workers to complete, and employees have the flexibility to finish training when it’s convenient for them. Even if interruptions cause many starts and stops, the online process won’t be derailed, and employees can finish when they have time.
And, as mentioned above, online learning tracks all completions, so you have a record of who has completed required training, like achieving OSHA certifications. Not only can employers assign required courses, but employees can choose to take additional courses. Putting employees in charge of their own development lets them be proactive about climbing the company ladder. Managers can see who’s taking on extra training and possibly put those employees in a succession plan. In fact, all an employee’s skills go into a searchable database, making it easy for employers to see what skills are at their disposal when bidding on jobs.
Talent shortages have been an issue for some time. Construction companies need to leverage all the resources at their disposal to hire and retain enough employees to remain competitive. Use an ATS like Arcoro’s to recruit via your website, job boards, social media and referral networks. But don’t stop there. Pair recruiting with reskilling your current workforce. Develop strong learning plans for employees using online learning through an LMS like Arcoro’s, which integrates with ClickSafety for necessary compliance training. Not only will you be better able to fill any skills gaps, but you’ll demonstrate your commitment to your employees.
Take the next step by contacting one of our team members to learn more or set up a demo.