Why Is There a Skills Shortage in Construction?

The construction industry faces a hiring problem or a valuable opportunity—depending on your perspective. As aging craft professionals inch closer to retirement, 78% of contractors report difficulty finding qualified craftsmen with the skills to replace them. The Great Recession of 2009, combined with less emphasis on skilled trades in the education sector, has resulted in a generational skills gap.

While this skills gap presents challenges, Dodge Data & Analytics predicts that total U.S. construction starts will increase 4% in 2021, to $771 billion. It’s clear that construction contractors at the center of the skills gap dilemma have a valuable opportunity before them. Demand for construction labor is increasing—now, contractors must solve the skills gap to seize the project opportunities on the horizon.

What Is a Skilled Worker in Construction?

Before you reshape your hiring process or implement expensive solutions, it’s important to consider who your ideal skilled construction worker is and how their skills can improve your business and the relationships you have with the clients for whom you produce quality work.

The term skilled labor refers to workers who possess abilities, training and safety-minded expertise within their industry. They bring proven experience and knowledge to jobsites and construction businesses. Skilled laborers may have attended a vocational school, university, community college, technical school, association apprenticeship training or learned their skills on the job as an apprentice.

How Construction Companies Can Solve For Skills Gaps

Matching open positions with skilled construction labor has become a priority for contractors and project managers across the nation. In a majority of cases, contractors can’t fill positions because the available workers lack education and training for the skills required; or it simply isn’t cost effective to recruit, hire and properly train full-time skilled craftsmen for a short-term project.

Fortunately, the skills gap presents opportunities for construction contractors who must consider the next step for staffing their workforce. If you’re looking for ways to narrow the skills gap between open positions and available talent, here are three ideas you can tap into to get ahead.

  1. Technology: By introducing new technologies, you can continuously upgrade the way your business approaches challenges. Project management software, vehicle and equipment automation, drones and robots can enhance worksite productivity. However, new technology can be expensive to implement, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. Technology also presents a learning curve for personnel, which can add to existing skills gaps.
  2. Training: Most contractors rely on their A- and B-level core workers consistently. Invest in your best skilled labor by offering additional training. This gives your finest employees ways to grow within your ranks and to close the skills gaps they may have. In addition, it can strengthen your workforce from within and improve your employee retention as employees see the value in their employer investing in them. But training is an investment—make sure you’re investing in the right people. For example, it may be time-consuming and profit-draining to invest in C-level workers who may be de-hired first when workload slows.
  3. Contingent Skilled Labor: Because your lowest-performing and most costly employees have a larger skills gap than your best workers, you may find it challenging to efficiently staff projects. As a result, your productivity and profitability suffer. When it doesn’t make sense to invest in C-level workers for a short-term project, you can partner with a skilled staffing agency like Tradesmen. You’ll receive temporary skilled craftsmen who have been thoroughly recruited, vetted, trained and who precisely meet timely skilled employee need. You can even close your skills gap by requesting craft professionals to fulfill a specialty area that your full-time workforce lacks. Plus, you get the flexibility to send them back when workload decreases, or you no longer need their skills.

Learn More About Flexible Construction Staffing for Your Workforce

Solving your construction labor skills gap isn’t something you have to shoulder alone. Tradesmen International provides a proven CORE+Flex labor staffing strategy designed to help businesses access the skilled craftsmen they need to get jobs done on time and within budget. Let us help you get started with a no-cost labor productivity analysis.

Contact us today to devise a lean staffing strategy and request a free labor productivity analysis and consultation.