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Why Construction Sites Fail To Recruit Young Workers


Construction workers are reaching retirement age, and that is putting a strain on an industry already dealing with increasing labor shortages. 

While in other industries, the younger population fills the talent void left by retirees, a National Association of Home Builders survey of 18- to 25-year-olds revealed only 3% of young people were interested in pursuing construction as a career. The growing age gap has companies trying to figure out how they can adjust to the growing millennial workforce.

Construction companies need to evaluate how they can attract and retain young talent and discover where they are going wrong.

A lack of meaningful experiences 

Millennials are looking for a reason not to hit the snooze button in the morning. They want careers that offer the possibility of travel and exciting projects that draw in young talent. 

Similar to other generations of workers, millennials want a meaningful career and a supportive company culture. In a LinkedIn survey of 26,000 members, 74% of candidates want a job where they feel like their work matters. In the construction industry, it can be hard to see the big picture when working on specialized, repetitive tasks. 

Emphasizing project goals like environmentally friendly building practices or working on a LEED-certified building can help engage young professionals who value corporate social responsibility in the workplace. Organizing volunteer activities, like a team Habitat for Humanity project, will give workers a sense of purpose and build a positive workplace culture.


Archaic technology 

A result of the overrepresented baby boomer population in the construction industry is a continued reliance on outdated project management processes. For the generation that grew up with the internet, their predecessors' methods can be frustrating, slow down progress and overcomplicate jobs. It can also make young professionals feel like they are not part of an innovative or cutting-edge company

Investing in emerging construction technology like digital punch lists can streamline the construction process, and makes use of younger workers’ pre-existing technology skills. 

An unsupportive workplace

Workers of all ages want a safe working environment with health benefits and a management staff that cares about their well-being. Team-building activities not only give young professionals a place to have fun and disconnect from work but also strengthen company loyalty. Employees are less likely to leave if they feel like they belong to a supportive community. Team building can also bridge the gap between millennials and their baby boomer colleagues. 

Having good mentorship in place with leadership personnel creates a continuous learning process, and makes young professionals feel valuable, appreciated and worth the company’s time. 


No room to grow and lackluster compensation 

Achieving career success in the construction industry requires dedication, hard work and a serious investment in education. Areas such as architecture, construction science and engineering require at least a four-year degree. Young professionals wonder if the effort is worth the compensation. 

Construction wages have not increased significantly in the last 15 years. In 2000, the average salary for a construction worker was $49K/year. It decreased to $47K/year in 2005 and increased to $48K/year in 2015. 

Millennials are looking for well-paying jobs and career advancement. Beginning with a well-defined compensation package, business owners can effectively combine clear direction, quality feedback and rewards to satisfy and retain employees. 

Companies can also offer on-site training throughout the year to continually invest in improving employees' skills. Laying out clear trajectories for advancement also signals to employees that they are working toward a promotion. Younger workers will be encouraged to stay if they have a future at the company.  

Building a strong corporate culture is the first step to drawing in young, top talent. Working with a global recruiting firm like Michael Page, businesses can find the construction industry candidates that match their company vision and will help close the labor gap. 

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