The labor shortage in the U.S. may continue to be the construction industry’s most significant challenge. The American General Contractor Association (AGC) surveyed a thousand general contractors in December of 2019 and found that 81% percent have a hard time filling positions. More than half are raising pay and other incentives to attempt to attract top talent, with little success.
By 2025 Millennials will make up the majority of the workforce, and Gen Z is hot on their heels; but unlike people from previous generations, they tend to steer clear of the trades. What’s at the root of the problem? Why are contractors having such a difficult time attracting this talent from this younger pool of potential hires? The answer is simple: Younger generations are more drawn to working with technology.
Construction has proven to be one of the slowest industries to adopt new technology, which makes it difficult to attract Millennials and Gen Zers. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to close the gap:
1. Adopt technology and change the construction culture.
Forbes explains that technology is an expectation from Millenials, not just a desire. Millennials and Gen Zers understand the value and efficiency of technology, and they have an easier time adopting it than previous generations. If contractors want to cut ahead of their competition and continue to attract the best possible talent, it’s imperative to implement technologies now rather than later. Millennials are looking for advanced technologies and collaboration software that directly improve their jobs and experience. Technologies such as laser scanning, BIM coordination and live job site viewing all improve construction project lifecycles and make the industry more enticing to younger hires.
2. Market your use of construction technology.
According to Foundation of The Wall and Ceiling Industry (FWCI), “Technology — more than wages and salary, flexible workdays and other job satisfaction parameters — can be a trump card in gaining the attention of young people.” The FWCI explains even a simple video showcasing the technology a contractor uses influences people’s perception of working in the construction industry. They encourage contractors to publish the technology they’re using on social media. It’s common for Millenials to look at a potential employer’s social media platforms to understand their culture, and seeing your firm is technologically advanced will help entice them to apply.
To create social posts that showcase your use of technology, use tools you already have on the jobsite, such as construction cameras. If your team performs BIM coordination and clash detection, take a few seconds of video inside the model to show off how you use technology as a solution. Or create a 30-second timelapse of a project going up, or footage from construction cameras showing technology being used onsite.
3. Fix the education gap.
Construction Management and Civil Engineering programs across the nation often lack a focus on technology in their courses. Recent research from Missouri State University found that students have a “natural affinity for mobile technologies,” but many architecture and engineering programs still don’t educate students on how mobile technologies are used in the field. This has resulted in low enrollment and even lower retention rates in AEC disciplines.
While construction firms may not be able to influence University’s programs directly, they can implement technology in their onboarding programs. Contractors who provide education on new construction technologies or seek it out for their Millennial and Gen Z employees will have an easier time recruiting and retaining them.
The construction industry needs to ramp up its adoption and implementation of new technology, market the use of that technology, and fix the education gap to attract young labor and talent. Construction firms that adopt and promote new technologies to potential recruits will be more successful at attracting talent, and the allure and impact of visuals can help get the message across.
Take a look at some of the amazing features TrueLook cameras offer. Also, check out our recent ebook, “Jobsite Cameras: The Construction Marketer’s Secret Weapon,” to see how they can be used to create promotional materials for recruiting, marketing and investor relations.