In 2020, more than one million workers became unemployed. The construction industry took a massive hit due to lockdowns and is still reeling from its after-effects.
With nearly 30% of construction materials coming from other countries, supply disruption was inevitable. This meant construction companies need to put a halt to their projects. More importantly, health was at stake, leaving construction workers looking for alternative jobs while social distancing was in effect.
Filling in Old Shoes
By 2021, 80% of construction workers in the United States returned to their jobs. The others who have not yet returned may never return at all. This leaves positions in the construction industry open to new skilled workers.
According to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, about 41% of the current construction workforce will retire by 2023. With this imminent retirement, construction employers are looking for ways to attract new and younger talents. Entry-level construction positions may fill in the gap, but this also means employers and exiting workers need to train this new breed of construction hires.
Do Construction Workers Get Paid Well?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of experienced construction workers is around $37,080 ($17.83 per hour). The rate depends on the education, experience, and skill of the employee.
Although construction work does not strictly require a degree, most companies look for formal training and hands-on experience. Career Explorer explains in an article that salaries are determined by the amount of experience a worker has. Entry-level construction positions have an average salary of over $21,000 per year. Mid-level positions have an average salary of $32,000, while the most experienced workers can get more than $47,000 per year.
However, salaries are not the barometer of success for many young employees. The next-generation construction workers are not just looking for high compensation but also for job satisfaction, efficiency, and safety.
How To Hire Construction Workers in 2022
Before retiring workers hang their hard hats, construction employers need to provide training for the new hires. Expert knowledge from retiring employees is key to a successful turnover. However, the challenge lies not in apprenticeship alone.
Attracting millennials to take on construction jobs will require companies to meet them where they are: online. Old hiring techniques are unlikely to entice these digital natives. If your company is still hanging the “Wanted Construction Workers” sign, you are missing the diverse group of talents that use technology to navigate life and work.
Millennials in construction are looking for innovative ways to keep work interesting and efficient. Here are some ways how companies can attract a new generation of construction workers:
Ramp up online hiring efforts
Adopting digital tools to attract new workers is now more important than ever. Younger generations are constantly on social media and other sites, proving that the easiest way to pull in this workforce is by meeting them where they are. Millennials’ and Generation Z’s identities are tied to their online lives. These groups expect new solutions that get rid of tedious application processes. Companies need to re-evaluate job postings and their media to reach this distinct audience.
Make safety always a priority
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20% of worker deaths are within the construction industry. Safety technologies are alluring to young people not only because of their novelty factor but also because of their efficiency.
Exoskeleton suits, which seem to have come from sci-fi movies, help protect the wearer from injury and reduce fatalities when operating heavy equipment. Other wearables such as smartwatches sensor-enabled hard hats are believed to improve site safety.
Operate more effectively with new technology
When you make technology integral to the workplace, you send the message that you care deeply about efficiency. Old traditional processes can now be performed faster (and even remotely) with the help of technology.
For example, instead of sending people on-site, drones can fly to an area and survey it. GPS technology can also give a detailed view of the terrain without the need to explore it in person.
Invest in leading-edge equipment
The construction industry is evolving with the use of technology. Upgrading equipment to make construction faster also allows new workers to operate equipment even with basic training. Modern machines are easier to operate, helping save time and cost. Moreover, remote technology such as telematics helps monitor the use and safety of vehicles and equipment.
Advancement in technology can help construction companies attract—and keep—the younger generation of workers. This new breed will replace the aging workforce and bring to the industry a fresh perspective.
By rethinking and switching recruitment efforts to meet Millennials and Gen Z where they are, construction companies can be more successful in their hunt for talent. Aside from making the industry attractive to young people, using technology can improve efficiency and safety in construction operations.