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How “Skilled” Do Millennial Workers Need To Be?

Posted in Industry News

How “Skilled” Do Millennial Workers Need To Be?

Across all industries, Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day. In the building industry alone, only one newcomer is starting for every five Boomers that are retiring, leaving the industry’s workforce netting negative four. Compound that, and the International Code Council estimates that 80 percent of today’s housing industry labor force will be gone in 15 years. It’s easy to see this effect hitting jobsites, but it’s a phenomenon that affects not just construction workers but architects, code officials and many other professions as well:

Although many skilled Boomers are heading for the exits, is that cause for alarm or an opportunity to drive greater value by implementing technology, innovation and productivity measures throughout the chain? We like to think it’s the latter.

In general, Millennials are better at mastering new technology than most Boomers in the housing industry – and that may be a key to finding suitable replacements for departing industry pros.

Here’s how it can work on the job site: 

Newly hired Millennial-age construction workers don’t have to be master craftspeople – just apprentice-level workers who are willing to learn. For example, a young worker can be equipped with safety eyewear that doubles as “smart glasses” featuring video streaming and two-way audio. If he or she gets in a jam and needs expert instruction, an offsite expert (even a retired construction worker) can see everything in real-time and offer helpful tips.

Millennial workers are intrigued by off-site manufacturing jobs, where homes are factory-built and they don’t have to battle the elements. In offsite facilities, young workers don’t have to become generalists who know everything about homebuilding. Instead, they learn to do a few things extraordinarily well – like ensuring that radiant barrier sheathing gets installed properly before leaving the factory.

A recent NAHB survey found that only 3% of Millennials are interested in tackling physically demanding construction jobs in the rain and heat. They’re much more likely to take a job in factory homebuilding, which lets them exercise tech brains rather than jobsite brawn.

The exodus of Boomer-age housing professionals is a serious problem, but it may set the stage for new value and efficiency industry-wide.

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