Construction Crisis Continues: Is There Any Relief in Sight?

It’s probably no surprise to you that the US construction industry is on the brink of one of the largest skilled labor shortages of all time. You have probably been feeling the pinch of increasing labor costs and a rising demand for workers. Recent industry publications have reported that over 80% of construction companies will need to hire in 2018 to meet the growing demand. Experts are speculating that it will only get worse as the oil and gas market recovers. US Construction spending rose to an all-time high of $1.257 trillion in November, and that number is projected to rise in 2018. Don Whyte, President of the National Center for Construction Education & Research says, “The construction industry is potentially facing a 1.5 million worker shortage by the year 2020.” Though this is the right kind of problem to have, the bigger issue is that there are few, if any short- term solutions.

What’s Coming and Who’s Going?

This optimism can be attributed to favorable economic conditions, a business-friendly regulatory environment and new government infrastructure initiatives. However, skilled workers are moving out of the industry. Many are aging out and many others are becoming ineligible due to new immigration laws recently passed.

What is the Competition Doing?

Retention is key. You hired them, you trained them, now it’s up to you to keep them. Construction candidates today are looking for competitive salaries, opportunities for promotion and growth as well as benefits like healthcare and vacation. More importantly, they are looking for a culture and a place to fit in. Your competitors are spending valuable time and resources defining and promoting their company culture. “Candidates that are interested in making a move in this climate generally feel over-worked and under-valued,” says Maggie Fatheree, Executive Recruiter at JBR. “Everyone in construction is under water and it is easy to lose sight of retention in the name of production and deadlines.” Mike Polito of MAPP Construction in Baton Rouge stressed that his company focuses on acquiring talent young and training them. “It’s getting harder and harder to hang onto talent even though good companies are doing a better job of focusing on keeping employees happy. Recruiting overall is a bigger challenge and companies are spending more time on personnel, recruiting, retention and whatever it is that makes a difference in individual company culture.”

The Long-Term Versus the Short-Term

Long-term problems require long-term solutions. If you haven’t started to modify your long-term strategies for hiring and retention, the time is now. Inspire loyalty by creating training programs with defined growth incentives. Cater to your older employees by offering new training and competitive opportunities. Develop a hiring process that allows you to make quick decisions and more importantly, make offers quicker than your competition. Employ every available resource and ask for help.

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