Talent Shortage in Construction
Overcome the Labor Shortage
Toolbox Talk: What Today’s Construction and Contractor Labor Shortage Means for Your Business
As a contractor or construction professional, you may have already encountered the challenge of recruiting new talent to your business. The demand for skilled labor is currently outpacing the amount of available talent. For instance, the job outlook for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters is expected to increase by 16 percent by 2026—faster than the average growth rate of seven percent for all occupations. Similarly, the outlook for HVAC mechanics and installers hovers around 15 percent.
Despite the demand for talent, roughly 95 percent of contractors reported having a moderate to difficult time finding workers skilled enough to fill positions.
With demand quickly outpacing supply, contractors must become aware of how severe the labor shortage is and what they can do to overcome it.
Just How Far Does the Labor Shortage Reach?
Construction firms and contractors both have a difficult time filling vacant positions, mostly due to the lack of unskilled labor available for hire. Plumbing and electrical work are among the most difficult areas to fill.
The talent shortage isn’t specific to a certain state or even region. Rather, it’s a problem that’s impacting businesses across the country. The Western region reports the most severe shortages, with 75 percent of contractors having difficulty hiring skilled labor.
Economic Implications of a Labor Shortage
Labor shortages, like those in the construction industry, can have a profound impact on the health of the economy. Labor shortages ultimately mean slow development and project turnaround, and spikes in hourly wages or costs due to short worker supply.
With fewer investments in technical education, we may also begin to see a larger skills gap. As older generations retire, there are few young qualified contractors to take their place, especially as the pressure for a four-year degree mounts.
A labor shortage also creates safety issues for construction and contracting companies, as there are fewer employees available to spread out the workload for a physically demanding profession. Oftentimes, contractors must work in extreme conditions and near hazardous materials, or complete tasks that require multiple people for support and safety.
How to Recruit Talent in a Labor Shortage
Recruiting for the next generation of contractors and construction professionals differs from recruiting to older generations. It’s important to engage and interact with millennials and generation Z, while also making your business present on digital channels where these populations communicate.
The Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) focuses on four key areas to attract new workers in the construction and contracting industry. They include:
- Offer onsite training via education programs and regular training workshops to keep employees up to date with new equipment and safety standards.
- Streamline the hiring process by attending career fairs and offering apprenticeship opportunities.
- Flaunt your environmental or socially responsible conscience by offering opportunities like LEED certification.
- Sell the profession well by promoting your business through online channels and social media networks—where today’s talent pool often communicates.
Despite the bleak outlook for available qualified talent, it is possible to attract and secure prospective employees to keep your business productive.