Steering Them Back to the Trades – New Recruitment Endeavors in 2018

Steering Them Back to the Trades – New Recruitment Endeavors in 2018

About 8 in 10 construction firms are having a hard time finding qualified people to fill their open positions. Earlier this year, the Indiana Builders Association reported there are an average of over 3,000 annual job openings in construction and similar fields in Indiana currently. Many of these open positions aren’t taking in very many applications, further complicating things. The state projects that by 2024 there will be over 30,300 construction trades job openings to be filled.

This problem’s been around for several years now and the reasons behind it are plenty. The recession drove people out of the industry, older workers are retiring, younger people aren’t as interested in construction, schools are not showing students much detail about the trades, too much emphasis is placed on going to college, construction isn’t an attractive job, and on and on. Each of these reasons are true, to one degree or another, but individually they’re only partially the case of the problem.

This shortage is affecting almost every aspect of the industry, even all the way down the line to the consumer. With less workers on the job, wages have gone up. But due to constraints on projects caused by a lack of labor, prices have gone up too. Many companies have even unable to bid on larger projects because they lack the number of people required to bring the projects to completion.

“A shortage of skilled labor is one of the most prominent challenges facing our industry today,” says Rick Wajda, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Builders Association.

In an effort to reverse the trend, construction firms and related organizations have launched new initiatives to both promote the quality, high-paying careers that are out there and develop the kind of candidates they need.

A recent example would be the new program formed earlier this year called Build Your Future Indiana, which was created via a partnership between the Indiana Builders Association, the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation, and the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis (BAGI). The three-year partnership comes as part of an effort to create awareness and resources that attract young workers to commercial, residential and road building industries.

Build Your Future Indiana works to fight the skilled labor shortage by curating career information from professionals across the industry to highlight key aspects and opportunities for each trade career path. This information has been developed into an interactive career match quiz online and comprehensive resources that are currently being delivered face to face by invested industry professionals at career fairs and schools. The point is to get young people thinking differently about the trades, and to clear misconceptions.

“This collaborative effort aims to eliminate misconceptions about careers in this industry and emphasize that there are many paths that the next generation of potential workers can maximize in order to find success,” says Steve Lains, Chief Executive Officer of the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.

“It’s time that students become informed of all the career paths available to them, not just traditional four-year degree plans,” says Chris Price, President of Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation.

Through the program, trade professionals will work to spread awareness about the vast amount of employment opportunities available in construction and other trades. Local employers, associations and schools are encouraged to conduct job fairs, panel discussions and local community events to inform students of the benefits of choosing a career path in skilled trade industries.

In other areas of the state, private companies are even taking it upon themselves to develop their own talent pipelines. Many are increasingly stepping up their own recruitment efforts by employing individuals specifically for that function. One of the key activities often conducted by these recruiters is the active formation of relationships with local schools to have a hand in shaping the way students are exposed to the trades.

Also, even though it may sound a little silly, there has been a growing trend of making construction firms more “hip” through modernization. The logic here is that advanced technologies like drones, robots, and computer modeling can help a company market itself to younger workers as a more attractive place to work.

All of these efforts will be great for one thing: getting new people engaged with the building trades. That may be the industry’s foremost concern. It’s not the first choice on most people’s minds when they contemplate new careers, and that’s what has to change. Construction jobs need to be billed as high-quality livelihoods where people can find success. It’ll take a concerted effort on behalf of many to make that happen, but it’s highly doable.