Staffing Up: How Contractors Can Cope With the Labor Shortage
by Karen Alves, November 26, 2018
With the economic outlook rosy and on the heels of record-breaking natural disasters that have prompted increased demand in cities such as Houston, it’s an understatement to say that the U.S. construction industry is swamped with work. Total U.S. construction starts are forecasted to hit $765 billion in 2018, up another three percent year-over-year. Yet it’s hard for contractors to enjoy the boom when they are constantly faced with worries about staffing.
In a 2017 survey, the National Association of Home Builders found more than 80 percent of builders considered the cost and availability of skilled labor their #1 challenge. By contrast, in 2011, only 13 percent named labor costs as their biggest concern. With this challenge continuing far into the foreseeable future, our industry must do all it can to prepare the next generation of builders.
Attracting Young People to Construction
You have a business to run and that means making the most of the workers you have – while keeping an eye out for those willing to enter the industry. According to research conducted by trade association FWCI, here are some vital ways to attract and retain today’s youth.
- Communicate often. Today’s younger workers thrive on collaboration and want to be part of a team. Solicit and acknowledge their input. Set clear expectations on job performance and how to achieve pay raises and promotion. Provide regular feedback about performance.
- Embrace technology. Use the latest technology to streamline your organization. Construction software and mobile devices can help your team get answers right away, and ensure you are allocating your resources in the most effective way. Incorporating technology also makes your company more appealing to younger workers.
- Choose materials wisely. Advanced materials translate to better workability and faster, easier and safer installation for workers. For example, LP® SmartSide® engineered wood siding is durable, weighs less than some siding options, and is easy to handle on the job site. Use of advanced materials and ongoing installation training also builds your reputation as a quality company that does quality work.
- Develop new recruitment strategies. Use social media platforms to find and engage with younger candidates. To attract high-quality candidates that will be a good long-term investment for your company, revise your interview process to include questions that assess the candidate’s learning capacity.
- Find candidates early. Reach out to counselors and teachers at high schools, junior colleges and trade schools to get leads on young people who like technology and want to work with their hands.
- Don’t overlook older candidates. People in their late 20s are often settled and serious about developing their career. They likely already have work experience that has led them to an interest in the trades, making them ideal recruits.
- Support construction trades training programs. In Dallas, Texas, more than 50 local contractors and suppliers support the Construction Trade School by speaking to classes, hosting students at job sites and networking at career fairs. More high schools are offering construction training, giving local construction professionals many opportunities to mentor and volunteer.
Succeed With LP
Working together, we can alleviate the skilled labor shortage by inspiring young people to make construction their career path. To learn more about how LP can help your business succeed, call our Customer Care Center at (888) 820-0325 to schedule a product knowledge meeting with an LP representative.