Overcoming the Labor Shortage Crisis: Recruiting the Next Generation of Skilled Workers

In 2017, New York City continues its construction boom – more projects are breaking ground, a quick look at the skyline shows ever more high rises dotting the horizon, and renewed investment in public works projects means there’s plenty of opportunity for those working in our Industries. This boom time has highlighted the shortage of skilled workers in the trades, largely due to years of declining interest on the part of our youth to pursue careers in construction related positions. While the increasing demand for skilled workers presents a major challenge for the Industry, it also offers a unique opportunity for organizations and unions willing to creatively appeal to and recruit fresh, young talent to the field.

Opportunities in Construction & Trades

One of the first hurdles that we must overcome is the perception of our Industry. A recent poll of young adults (18-25), conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), found that 74% of respondents reported that they knew which field they wanted to pursue in their careers. However, only 3% of that group expressed any interest in the working in the Construction Trades. This is a serious concern to our Industry as demand increases and the existing labor force ages out leaving the ranks empty and in need of skilled laborers.

Labor Shortage Crisis Skills Gap

The NAHB’s survey offers some crucial insights that employers can use in hopes of attracting fresh talent. One of the driving factors in the decision to pursue a career in the Construction Trades was the decent wages paid throughout the Industry, even though many don’t have any idea just how much they can make.

This emphasizes the need to better communicate with younger adults, their parents, and teachers and counselors about the financial benefits of working in the trades. According to the NAHB, 25% of skilled laborers make at least $75,000 annually. Trades that require an apprenticeship offer training and pay instead of saddling young adults with debt. On the higher end of our Industry, the top 10% of workers make well over $75k and easily pull six-figure incomes.

Safety Myths vs. Industry Fact

Safety is often a cited concern for parents and young adults alike. Many see the portrayal of laborers in movies and on television – hapless or reckless individuals putting profit before safety – as the norm. This cartoonish depiction of laborers couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a recent Op-Ed in The Mercury News, Cupertino Electric CEO, John Boncher addresses this concern – the risk factor of working in the trades. In the article, Boncher says,

“The trades are far safer than ever before. New equipment, new tools and ever-evolving rules and regulations are increasing safety for all types of construction jobs.

The rates of injuries for jobs in the private sector have been declining for the past 13 years.”

This fact is often underreported in favor of far more sensationalized incidents.

Getting the Word Out

Changing existing misconceptions about our Industry and getting our story out isn’t that difficult. According to the NAHB’s survey, the youth of today are actively searching out information – especially with respects to their futures. Many of them are active online and seek information on company websites and via professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Investing in your company’s website and creating a LinkedIn page are simple ways to get the word out and connect with the next generation of worker. Using either of these channels is also a quick way to put your company in its best light to customers and clients as well.

Related Courses: 4-Hour Flagging Training

Education, information, and getting to tell your story are all key to recruiting fresh talent that you would not otherwise have had access to. As we prepare to court the next generation workforce, providing a clear pathway to success in our Industry is vital attracting talent and easing our current labor shortage crises.

Via National Association of Home Builders