One of the most important parts of running a successful business is hiring the right people. However, that task becomes increasingly difficult as the unemployment rate decreases and fewer people are looking for jobs. What should you do when you cannot find the right employees to hire for your construction business? Learn about the causes of the skilled labor shortage and what you can do to fix its effects on your company.

Growing Concerns for Contractors

Generally speaking, most people view low unemployment rates as a positive sign of a prospering economy. However, rates in America have been so low in recent years that people within the industry are becoming alarmed; while low unemployment rates may signify a healthier country, it also becomes much more difficult to find people to employ since fewer people are searching for jobs. Many business owners and contractors have already voiced their concerns about the lack of skilled labor available on the market.

Most businesses in the construction industry have recently found themselves struggling to locate experienced, qualified workers with skills necessary to fill open positions. As the unemployment rate shrinks, so does the number of people looking for work. However, the demand for these kinds of workers is growing, but there are not enough people available. Thus, the lack of skilled people seeking employment is becoming one of the biggest challenges for companies.

Causes of the Shortage

So where exactly have all of the skilled workers gone? It seems as if there is a plethora of potentials workers ready to jump at the opportunity to take on new jobs. However, the industry has not taken many actions regarding this fact.

For a while, companies always assumed that upon reaching retirement age, the older generation would leave its jobs. This did not particularly go as anticipated. Due to the increased healthcare costs, pension payment fees, decreasing social security, and some other things, many people who grow to the age of expected retirement are reluctant to leave their jobs.

There are other causes of behind the shortage, too. Many companies do not invest enough time and money into ongoing training projects, so people who need to learn and obtain the skills do not have the resources they need to do so. Also, the younger generations have been encouraged in the recent years to attend colleges and universities, and then to pursue skilled jobs following their education. However, many companies do not wish to hire younger workers due to an unwillingness to train them—so, in short, they do not have the workers they need, nor do they have the resources to train new ones.

Construction and Millennials

The construction industry is not advertised to millennials nearly as much as it should be. Even in schools, there is a lack of occupational education; students learn many different subjects, but rarely do they learn their application to the real world.

This becomes a major issue as people in the current workforce draw closer and closer to retirement; the unemployment rate is the lowest in a decade, so there are fewer people to hire. The lack of people to hire puts massive pressure on project managers, foremen, and developers because as the older generation of workers retires, nobody is available to take their place.

Reactions from the Industry

The lack of available skilled labor lessens the number of resources a company can use. To compensate for this, many businesses within the construction industry have begun accepting fewer work opportunities since they do not have all of the necessary means to complete all of the potential projects.

Contractors and business owners have turned to many different approaches to retain a skilled workforce. Many of these employers have found that increased salaries, more overtime opportunities, additional bonuses, and rewards for high-quality work performance have persuaded workers to continue working with their companies, therefore keeping intact the skilled labor force already formed by the company.

Some businesses have found that forming strong general contracting and subcontracting relations has been a temporary fix to the shortage. These bonds typically result in better work performance and supposedly make people more inclined to work together in the future.

Solutions to the Shortage

There is no one way to solve the skilled labor shortage, but there are many ways to mitigate the issue and increase the number of people qualified and willing to work. Many solutions revolve around reaching out to the millennial generation.

First of all, the industry should open its mind and become more willing to take on younger employees; training may present some difficulties, but it all pays off in the end when you have a sufficient amount of skilled workers to complete the projects you wish to get done.

Also, the construction industry should try to appeal to students. It should allocate more money into vocational-technical schools to expose high school students to the possibilities of pursuing a career in construction; many high school students are unsure of which kind of job they want, so creating more promotional programs and opportunities for the younger generation can persuade more people to join the workforce. College enrollment rates have declined in recent years, too, so those who have not attended college may also be searching for an occupation.

Even though there is not a straightforward solution to the skilled labor shortage, raising awareness of the issue and changing the world’s perception of the construction industry is the key to moving towards a permanent fix to the problem.