As the construction industry continues to grow, many businesses are finding that they have a hard time filling vacant positions with qualified employees. One solution to this problem is upskilling, or training existing employees to do new tasks. However, this can be a difficult process, as it requires businesses to find the right training program and then pay for their employees to attend. In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges of upskilling in the construction industry and offer up some solutions.

The Issues Unique To Construction

Construction businesses face a unique challenge in upskilling their workforce: they largely use contractors rather than employees. This means that companies often need to find less formal ways to provide training for their workers, and it can be harder to track who is getting trained vs not.

Businesses will also need long-term strategies: they cannot just train new employees when they first join the company. They must be prepared to train on an ongoing basis, as their contractors’ unique skillsets may change over time.

Finding The Right Training Programs

When it comes to finding training programs for construction workers, there are some key factors that can help companies choose the best option:

  • Learning management system integration: Companies will need to use some system to track their employees’ training. This may either be an in-house system or something like a learning management platform, which can help businesses organize all of their employees’ training records.
  • Technical advice: While companies can research on their own, it is often helpful to get the advice of industry professionals. Local colleges or community organizations may provide assistance in finding the right programs for a business’ employees, allowing them to choose from multiple options.

Flexibility Of The Training Programs

Employees learn at different speeds and have different needs over time, so businesses need training programs that can accommodate these changes. Some of the factors to look for in a training program include:

  • On-demand updates: Training programs need to be able to adjust in response to changes in industry standards or regulations. They should also be able to add new content when the business wants it, such as when an employee starts performing a new task.
  • Personalization: Employees can also have very specific needs, so training programs should allow businesses to customize the information that their employees receive, such as by adding notes or tools for particular tasks.

Payment Models For Training Programs

Many companies are wary of committing funds to upskilling their workforce. To alleviate this concern, it is important for training programs to allow businesses to use different payment models. Some of the most common include:

  • Fixed-cost options: Programs that charge a flat fee regardless of how many employees attend are often less risky for companies. This price may be lower than what the company would pay if they hired an outside training firm.
  • Pay-as-you go options: Some programs charge for each employee who attends, which can be helpful if a business needs to limit its costs. However, these payment models require businesses to estimate the number of employees they will need to train ahead of time.

While it can be difficult for construction businesses to upskill their workers, it is important for them to do so. The industry faces major challenges in the coming years, and businesses will need to find new ways to adapt. Unfortunately, the path towards adaptability is fraught with land mines.

The Challenges You Face

Hiring Managers

Hiring managers are often less enthusiastic about upskilling versus hiring. Most hiring managers are impatient and would rather not wait four to six weeks for an internal team member to be trained and skilled. The idea of losing weeks of productivity while someone is trained keeps them from endorsing and pursuing the upskilling approach.

What might help? Educating hiring managers on the true time and cost of new hires and incentivizing internal teams to identify high-potential candidates for upskilling. Once a few well-skilled internal candidates make it onto their teams, hiring managers will quickly become upskilling fans.

Fighting Burnout

It can be difficult to determine whether an employee is burnt out or simply bored with their job. In either case, it’s important to try and upskill them by providing training and development opportunities. This will help keep them interested in their work and engaged with their colleagues.

However, ensure that these opportunities don’t add stress to employees’ already busy schedules. Consider freeing up work hours and reallocating their duties and deliverables so they can focus on gaining new skills without the stress of other business pressures. This demonstrates both respect for employees’ time and the company’s commitment to investing in them.

The Education System Has Failed Us

Many construction businesses are finding themselves in a difficult position when it comes to finding skilled labor. The root of the problem seems to be with America’s education system, which is overlooking many of the critical skill needs and gaps across the U.S. workforce.

However, some businesses are taking matters into their own hands, by visiting high schools to ensure young people are learning about alternative career options, creating apprenticeship and training programs, or partnering with the Department of Defense to offer internship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities. In order to foster the talent businesses need, America’s education system needs major changes.

Unfortunately, we’re not in position to change that in the short-term, however we can continue to make strides in the construction industry with a commitment to upskill each and every employee, while still working with our elected public officials to make positive changes in our educational system for the long-term.

If you’re looking to upskill your workforce but don’t know where to start, feel free to book a call with myself or one of my team members at Raymond Search Group. We can walk you through some clear and actionable steps on how you can fill in the gaps on your team through upscaling your workforce, supplemented by finding and recruiting top talent for those roles you can’t upscale for.