Reducing Gap Between Available Positions and Skilled Workers

According to a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Autodesk, 80% of construction firms report some level of difficulty filling hourly and craft positions. With nearly a quarter of a million available construction jobs in the United States, the construction labor shortage is driving up costs.

Companies need to find ways to retain workers, draw in new talent and increase their staff to levels to get the job done. Here are 3 tips to help you navigate.

Consider cross training

The median age of construction workers in California is 42 to 43 years old, that’s two years older than the median age of the total labor force. It’s no secret that the physical demands of construction work tend to take a toll on bodies. While older workers may have the desire to put retirement on hold, when strength, endurance and flexibility diminish, many feel they have no choice but to move on.

Older workers have experience and reliability that should not be discounted by employers. Having men and women with years of on-the-job know-how should be viewed as a valuable asset. Over the years, these workers have learned ways to do things that are most efficient and often safer.

Contracting firms should do their best to keep these workers happy and on the payroll as long as possible. Have conversations with workers and find areas for improvement. Consider cross training to show them you’re willing to make the investment and provide broader skills they may utilize in different positions. Train workers to fill roles with fewer physical demands such as inspectors, construction supervisors and construction managers.

Expand recruitment

Because everyone out there is using typical tactics such as tapping contacts and posting job ads, it can limit your ability to find new talent. It’s necessary to increase your range, get creative and try other avenues.

In addition to posting on LinkedIn, Indeed and other hiring sites, keep in mind that younger audiences use other platforms. Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. use social media and check it daily (or many times a day). Reach out via platforms that cater to your target audience, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Take a look at companies that specialize in connecting employers in the construction industry to qualified workers, including the Construction Recruiters Network, Aerotek and Building Team Solutions.

Explore options with local high schools and colleges to create training, internships and a pipeline for employment. AGC reached out to the federal government to ask officials to both increase funding for career and technical education programs, and allow more immigration to fill vacancies.

Prioritize safety

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in five worker deaths last year were in construction. Additionally, a National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) study found that older workers have a higher proportion of injuries from “falls, slips and trips.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports that of all industries, construction sees the most fatal falls, accounting for 51% of all falls in the United States. Construction also has the highest non-fatal injury rates, 71% higher than any other industry.

With this in mind, good physical and emotional well-being is essential for a positive working environment. Construction-related injuries not only take a heavy toll on individuals involved,  but also have a ripple effect on the team and the company at large. You may have to replace the worker, pay compensation, put effort into keeping morale up after an accident and more.

It’s no wonder that of the contractors surveyed for the USG Corporation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index report last year, 80% responded they were either highly concerned or moderately concerned about the safety risks created by too few skilled workers on their job sites. When there are labor shortages, it’s important to be doubly cautious to observe all safety practices on the job.

Remember the Southern California Contractors is here to help.  SCCA Safety Committee focuses on the areas of safety and environmental compliance as it affects members. Tap into the many Safety Resources supplied by the SCCA Safety Committee members and find more information to guide you.

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