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6 ways construction firms can beat the labor shortage

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.

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