The skilled labor shortage remains an important topic within the construction industry, as skilled baby boomers age out or retire and fewer millennials enter the trades to take their place. Fortunately, the industry has taken notice, and leading organizations, industry partners, institutions, and associations are teaming up to tackle this issue from multiple angles. At the 99th Annual AGC Convention in New Orleans earlier this year, student AGC members had a strong presence, attending sessions and asking smart, thought-provoking questions. This young generation expects intuitive technology tools not only in their personal lives, but in their professional lives as well. Millennials in particular, value opportunities for professional and personal development and growth and want to work for companies they are passionate about for managers who they feel value them as people.

New Recruiting Tactics

Despite the current shortage, local contractors and recruiters are focusing on new ways to attract the next generation of construction workers, using a “career-directed approach” to match skilled workers with the companies that need them most. Simply put, the goal is to show how the construction industry can be an excellent career choice from the start. Today’s younger generation has grown up with technology, and they want to utilize that technology in everything they do – including their careers. Showing these individuals the ways in which tech plays a role in construction – and even highlighting the need for highly-skilled specialists in the construction trade – is incredibly appealing to the next generation.

In addition, colleges and universities are introducing innovative new construction management programs to better prepare workers for the realities of the job. Keene State College in New Hampshire, for example, is introducing a degree focused on construction safety sciences. The program will focus on critical thinking and problem-solving skills, all while focusing on regulatory compliance and hazard identification. By putting more focus on the science behind construction, these universities are also making the construction industry more appealing to the next generation.

Introducing Technology to Bridge Gaps

Smart devices, sensors, wearables, drones, and other solutions enabled by the Internet of Things are becoming more prevalent on jobsites. With increased demand and a lack of available labor, construction companies are turning to technology to optimize resources already in place and attract a new generation to the industry. The new generation grew up in the digital world and relies upon technology for just about everything they do. Bringing this technology into the construction industry makes it more attractive, and it could very well inspire people to not only choose construction as a career, but to become innovators and solve some of the problems the industry currently faces.

In addition, some contractors are making a point to pair younger, tech savvy workers with more experienced skilled labor, giving the newer generation important on-the-job experience and know-how and an older generation the technical introduction they need.

It is clear that today’s construction companies must change the way they operate to attract – and retain – the next generation of construction workers. Fortunately, companies are responding by embracing innovation as a core company culture and are adopting new IoT-enabled technologies to optimize processes, identify new opportunities for efficiency and data-driven insights, and support the next generation of workers.