There is quite a bit of talk in the construction industry about the growing skills gap between new and seasoned workers due to the severe lack of millennials in the industry. Millennials currently make up the majority of the general workforce, but as it currently stands, a staggeringly small amount of them are entering the construction industry. In 2015, less than 10% of the those in the construction workforce were between the ages of 20 and 24.
This presents an obvious issue. As a large amount of the current construction workforce is heading towards retirement, how will construction businesses continue to fill important roles when the younger workforce isn’t entering the industry?
The short and easy answer is that employers will need to be exceptionally diligent about trying to recruit millennials, but doing so is much easier said than done, though it’s not impossible. If you’re looking for a few ways to rev up your own strategy when it comes to targeting the younger demographic, here are a few ideas to help you out:
If it’s one thing that has stayed the same, no matter the generation, it’s that everyone wants to live a comfortable life where their needs are taken care of and they have enough income to also enjoy themselves a little bit. This is why offering and advertising adequate pay and benefits is the first place you should start when attracting anyone to the industry.
To help millennials see the value of going into construction, they need to feel it’s a career move that will allow them to build a quality life. It’s important that the compensation offered is comparable to what they would be making elsewhere, or at least it could be if they stayed around and grew with your company. At the end of the day, a career choice needs to open the doors for a secure future.
It’s not just about money, either. Benefits play a huge role in how someone selects a career, especially in the modern climate of enormous health care costs. Health care, vacation days, and parental leave are all benefits millennials are vocal about wanting, and offering them sends the message that your company is willing to invest in anyone who is willing to grow with your company.
Workplace flexibility is a huge selling point for the millennial generation. They want to be able to prioritize their families and create a healthy work-life balance. To draw this generation into construction, it helps to be flexible where you can.
Whether it’s allowing employees to occasionally work from home (if possible), creating alternative scheduling or permitting them to set their own hours, giving more breaks, or allowing the occasional mental health day, these things are becoming increasingly important to the workforce. Since the construction world is so hands-on, it may be difficult to provide as much flexibility as other industries, but the more creative you get in encouraging a healthy balance between an employee’s work life and personal life, the more millennials will take interest in construction.
According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, one of the primary items millennials look for in a job is the ability to advance and learn. They want to be engaged with the work they’re doing, and they heavily value the ability to learn new skills and become well-versed in the industry they’re in. If they don’t feel like this is a possibility, they’ll either dismiss a job offer or leave as soon as a better option comes along.
This is why it’s important to emphasize the point that someone can continue to advance if they enter into the construction world. Offering mentorship programs where you pair an entry-level employee with a seasoned worker is a great way to cater to their thirst for knowledge while helping mend the growing skills gap at the same time.
Highlight and advertise all of the ways in which someone could move up in your company, as doing so will help attract more workers from the younger generation.
Having a sound online presence and marketing strategy should be a priority of anyone running a business in today’s world, but it’s especially important when trying to draw interest from millennials.
This generation has, for the most part, grown up in the age of the internet. They use it for nearly everything, including contemplating career choices. If millennials check out the reviews and websites of a restaurant before making the commitment to eat somewhere, they’re going to go even further to investigate a potential employment opportunity.
Having a modern website that’s easy to navigate, along with a strong social media presence, is of huge importance. Your website needs to highlight the “wow” factor of your company and allow anyone perusing through it to understand who your company is and what your mission and values are. It’s important that your brand can relate to millennials, and if you have a dated or non-existent website, it will be hard for them to make a solid connection.
Speaking of technology, it’s not just your website that you need to update if you want to attract millennials to the construction industry. Millennials incorporate technology in so many aspects of their lives, and in order to generate interest in construction careers, companies would fare much better if they adapted to some of the innovative trends making their way into the industry.
Many companies have already started to utilize more digital project management software, mobile devices, apps, drones, 3D printing, etc., but a significant amount still use traditional methods.
Because this generation has become accustomed to using digital means to problem solve and complete tasks, it’s what they’re most comfortable dealing with, and they would have a hard time adjusting to manual, less convenient means.
The future of construction relies on both millennials taking the reins as well as the adaptation to new technological breakthroughs, so it would be wise to start learning how to most strategically bring your company into the digital age.
Millennials are the first generation that has so many opportunities to work digitally, and when you work from a computer, you don’t have a whole lot of workplace hazards to concern yourself with.
Because of this, millennials may feel a bit apprehensive about choosing a career that is physically demanding and requires so many safety precautions. To combat this anxiety, it’s important to stress your dedication to keeping the workplace safe from harm. Emphasize in your job descriptions, with your recruitment efforts, and on your website that safety is something that you go above and beyond to ensure to your workers. If you’ve gone two years without a serious accident, make note of that when reaching out to the younger workforce.
Always invest in the most up-to-date, trustworthy safety equipment, and stress that you go out of your way to properly train and supervise anyone who works at a construction site. A little reassurance and explanation can go a long way.
Because there are few millennials expressing interest in construction, you’ll have a better shot at attracting future generations if you start creating interest in the industry from a young age. Focus on partnering with high schools and colleges to let students know that construction is a viable career choice, and share success stories of those who started in entry-level positions and moved on to executive roles.
For college students, encourage careers in construction management or engineering. The need for construction isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so point out that it’s a rather secure career path. The more often that you can plant the seed in young people that a career in construction is something worth pursuing, the more likely they will be to consider it when they are starting to think about their career paths.
The above tips should allow you to help younger generations consider careers in construction. The future of the industry is, quite literally, in their hands, so it’s more important than ever to amplify efforts to show them how this niche can be lucrative, educational, and rewarding. After all, there are few things as tangibly fulfilling as helping to create the world we all live in.
For over 41 years, S.R. Clarke Consulting Services, Inc. has found the top talent needed to build some of America’s most iconic buildings, bridges, highways, and infrastructure. We know how to find, recruit, and hire only the most professional and enthusiastic of talent, as we’ve worked primarily in construction for decades.
We’re proud to say that our people build America, and if you’re in need of a hand to help you with your own building needs, contact us today to discover how we can be your strategic partner in success.