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Attracting young people to the construction labor market

With a well-known labor shortage and retirements looming, the construction industry needs to attract more young people. Recruitment and retention have been a struggle.

Attracting young people to the construction labor market

Successful path ahead

Young workers need to understand that there is indeed a successful future ahead of them in the building trades. Seeing that wages are above average for starting a career in trades and that training is available to expand and enhance their skillsets are influences that could lure new workers.

As the Association of General Contractors of America (AGC) notes the tight supply of available, qualified workers has led to firms not only increasing wages, but also increasing their investments in training as they recruit employees with little or no experience.

Per AGC’s July 2021 report, “average hourly earnings in construction – a measure of all wages and salaries – increased 3.2 percent over the year to $30.73. That figure was 10.1 percent higher than the private-sector average of $27.90.”

Teeming with tech

With younger generations now considered born digital natives, the construction sector can break the stigma of being a non-progressive workforce. Of course, manual labor is a big part of many jobs, but technology continues to play a bigger role. Drones, BIM, 3D printing, wearable equipment, augmented reality, and robotics are all fascinating areas of the AEC industries that can pique the interest of the technology-minded young worker.

Sustainability and community engagement

As many young people are very in-tune with environmental concerns, construction companies should showcase how they are building and designing sustainably. Showing how a firm contributes to the community and how its works can have a net-positive impact is a step to drawing young employees and letting them know how their work makes a difference.

Communication is key

Getting the point across that meaningful, exciting, sustainable good-paying jobs are out there appears to be the key. Per the AGC,

“The nation’s education system continues to produce too many over-qualified baristas and not enough qualified bricklayers and other craft construction professionals,” [says Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer]. “As a result of these educational imbalances, too many young adults are struggling to pay off college debts while too many construction firms are struggling to fill job positions that pay well and don’t require costly degrees.”

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