After facing setbacks like the 2008 Great Recession, the 2019 COVID-19 Pandemic, and supply chain disruptions, the construction industry must strategize for another challenge: a labor shortage.

Jobsite notes that “A Deloitte survey found that 52% of engineering and construction executives say they face severe labor and talent shortages. In August 2021, 60% of surveyed firms had projects canceled or postponed because of workforce shortages.”

External Risks Affecting Construction Shortages

A perfect storm may be gathering on the horizon for construction firms.

The construction workforce is nearing retirement age; 20% of the workforce is 55 or older. Currently, the average retirement age in this industry is 61 years, as reported by the CDC. Additionally, many younger workers find themselves attracted to other sectors such as healthcare and technology.

Even though the federal government has set aside billions of dollars to fund new infrastructure projects, the construction industry will find it difficult to fill jobs. The new projects bring new requirements, including hiring only unionized workers for projects exceeding $35 million. According to Construction Dive, “For every $1 billion in additional construction spending, construction gains 3,900 jobs.”

Construction firms must plan for new employee onboarding and retention to remain competitive in a quickly changing environment.

Attraction and Retention Strategies to Implement Now

While supply chain disruptions and market volatility present a threat to construction projects, hiring skilled workers is one of the biggest challenges firms today face. If you’re worried about hiring, you’re not alone. Three out of four companies indicate that they share your concern.

You can gain a competitive advantage over other construction firms by adopting a new mindset regarding hiring practices. Consider these six suggestions:

  1. Train and cross-train. On-the-job injuries affect one-third of new construction workers. One of the ways to prevent injuries at work is to provide ongoing training, but don’t stop there. Cross-train your employees to step into other roles at a moment’s notice.
  2. Connect with a recruiter to establish a talent pool. Knowing where to tap into a reservoir of talent when you need it will save you time and money.
  3. Consider employment alternatives. Hire freelance workers, part-timers and remote options.
  4. Focus internal attention on your job opportunities. Post all open positions internally. Even if your current employees are interested in the opportunity, they may know someone who is.
  5. Take care of your employees. Provide benefits and incentives; pay overtime.
  6. Expand your hiring philosophy. Hire people with a shared philosophy or attitude and train them.

The key to adapting to the labor and talent shortages in the construction industry requires rethinking and reorienting the way you attract, hire, and retain your workers.