6 ways construction firms can beat the labor shortage

03/02/15 at 06:57 AM | Published Under Job Openings by Will Temby

The Associated General Contractors of America reports that 83% of contractors are having trouble finding qualified skilled labor to meet the demand.

My first reaction to that is, wow!

My next thought? Well, it’s really no wonder: The construction industry alone created more than 200,000 jobs last year, a reflection of the recovering economy and rising demand for buildings, road work and new homes.

What a difference a couple of years can make, right?

During the downturn, the construction industry laid off almost 2 million workers. Now that the economy is improving, it needs those people back. Problem is, many of those experienced workers found other jobs or have retired.

So, what can be done?

The good news is that employers can, in fact, do plenty to improve their chances of finding the right talent. A good place to start is by not getting bogged down by the challenges presented by the labor shortage. Be proactive with your recruiting, hiring, and workforce management strategies to help combat the issue.

Here are 6 ways construction firms and builders can ease their labor shortage pain:

1. Develop a safety culture. Creating a true safety culture is a great way to fight the problem of accidents with inexperienced workers. And, perhaps more importantly, companies with a culture of safety and a reputation for taking care of their own are more attractive to skilled workers who are shopping around for the best jobs.

2. Make sure you carefully screen applicants. Replacing employees is difficult and expensive. The interview process should not only look for the abilities in candidates, but also for their attitude, aptitude, and adaptability.

3. Improve training and promote knowledge transfer. Regular training is a necessity for your workforce to keep their skills up-to-date and for the assimilation of new workers. It is also important to encourage the transfer of skills and knowledge from your veterans to your new employees. Put them in teams to provide mentor opportunities. Both groups can learn a lot from each other.

4. Support efforts to increase career and technical education. This could mean getting involved with national organizations pushing for increased vocational education, or even reaching out to a local vocational school.

5. What about those oil workers? Things have, in fact, changed in our oilfields, where drillers have begun to lay off workers who are highly trained in some of the same skills needed on construction sites. Aggressively recruit those qualified workers, who won’t be out of work for long, given that your competitors are hoping to beat you to them.

6. Boost pay and benefits. When there’s stiff competition among builders for crews as well as contracts, the employer with the best perks and pay is likely to win at recruiting.

Apprentice Personnel provides temporary, temporary-to-hire, direct placement and payroll services for the construction and building trades.

About the Author

Will-temby Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.

staffing service industry blog

News and Latest Events 
Economist pegs 2017 construction growth at 5 percent

The 2017 Dodge Construction Outlook sees total U.S. construction starts for 2017 advancing 5 percent to $713 billion, following increases of 11 percent in 2015 and an estimated 1 percent this year. Read more arrow

Robust jobs report eases worry over economic growth

The U.S. labor market in July capped off the best two-month stretch of hiring so far this year, a sign of strength for an economy that has been showing mixed growth signals in recent months. Read more arrow

U.S. growth and employment data tell different stories

Measured by traditional yardsticks for growth, like gross domestic product, the American economy definitely looks weak. View it through the prism of hiring and employment, however, and the economy seems surprisingly strong. Read more arrow

Labor Department clarifies employment guidelines 

The Labor Department has waded deeper into the contentious issue of joint employment, seeking to clarify who is accountable for violations of employment laws when two different entities, like a manufacturer and a staffing agency, both have ties to the same worker. Read more arrow

Prepare for the great moderation in U.S. job growth

An increasing number of Wall Street economists and those inside the Federal Reserve are concluding that job growth is bound to shift into a lower gear as the aging population drags on the amount of available labor. Read more arrow

Weakness and strength: 7 snapshots of the U.S. job market

Employers added a meager 142,000 jobs in September, the government said Friday. And the average job gain for each of the past three months — 167,000 — is well below the 231,000 average for the previous three. Read more arrow

Housing, construction may be able to improve U.S. jobs picture 

Even though Friday’s lackluster U.S. jobs report proved a disappointment, the growth in construction and housing jobs might be able to pull the U.S. economy through this rough patch. Read more arrow

Kansas employment stats create muddled picture

The data on employment in Topeka, Wichita and Kansas are behaving in puzzling ways, making it unclear whether their employment pictures are getting better or worse, according to an economist at Wichita State University. Read more arrow

NLRB will let more workers bargain with their employer’s employer

The decision could have widespread implications for subcontracting, franchising, and temporary staffing agencies that have become increasingly prevalent in today's "fissured" economy. Read more arrow 

Should Americans work more? 

While the average American workweek is already longer than in most high-income countries, the Irish and the South Koreans show it’s possible for an advanced country’s workers to put in more hours than we do. Read more arrow 

Labor Department expected to make millions more eligible for OT

Millions of Americans who work in excess of 40 hours a week will qualify for overtime pay under a proposed Labor Department rule. Read more arrow

Nailed it: Construction employment helps fuel economy

April was the best month for construction employment since January 2014, U.S. Labor Department figures showed — and not just for job creation. Unemployment among construction workers fell to its lowest level since 2006. Read more arrow

Despite hiring efforts, veterans face employment obstacles and civilian disconnect

A new report says that vets have trouble finding and keeping jobs and that civilian employers struggle to understand them. Read more arrow

Apartment construction a booming business nationwide

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, apartment vacancies nationwide hit their lowest point in two decades in the last quarter of 2014: 4.8 percent. The low vacancy rate has led to sky high rents and an explosion of apartment construction that so far cannot keep pace with demand. Read more arrow

Trade plan hopes to grow Wichita exports by more than $1 billion

The Wichita-South Central Kansas Regional Export Plan aims to raise Wichita area exports by $1.1 billion over five years. Such a boost in sales would translate into roughly 6,000 more jobs, according to federal estimates. Read more arrow

The worst mistakes job seekers are still making

In today’s job market, applicants have enough challenges without worrying they’ve made a wrong move bad enough to cost them the position. There are all kinds of theories out there about which blunders are the absolute worst. Read more arrow

Companies face new rules on labor practices

President Obama will sign an executive order that could make it harder for companies that violate wage, labor and anti-discrimination laws to win federal contracts. Read more arrow