How to Find Construction Workers

by Joanie Hollabaugh

Creatively Coping with the Labor Shortageconstruction-hiring

We’ve been judiciously warned over the last two years that there is a severe shortage of construction workers. Understandably, laid off workers found new careers in different industries and some attrition can be attributed to the plethora of near-retirement baby boomers who simply decided to not return to the work force.

ForConstructionPros.com reports that 290,000 construction jobs were created last year, and 48,000 were added to payroll just in December of 2014. That’s the biggest surge in nine years! As great as the uptick sounds, For Construction Pros reports that 2.2 million jobs were wiped out during the recession, and only a third of them have been recovered.

How are you going to fill labor positions in your company? You may need to get creative!

Where to Find Young Workers

In the new normal, advertising in the local Want Ads is certainly not going to cut it. Nor are job boards like Monster or LinkedIn. Let’s find new ways for attracting young construction workers!

Tap your Local Colleges

When’s the last time you thought about recruiting workers fresh out of college? As the Baby Boomers start to retire, there’s a whole pool of tech savvy, fresh-faced graduates who want to play with BIM and drones, and altered reality!  Many of these schools have taken advantage of free software licenses offered by software publishers in the hope that their future employers will adopt the software.

There’s bound to be specialists emerging from your company’s construction niche. At Arizona State University, there is an excellent construction management school, the Del E. Webb School of Construction that offers five disciplines:

  • Commercial building (general)
  • Heavy construction (roads, bridges, dams)Specialty construction (mechanical and electrical)
  • Residential
  • Concrete Industry

Of course there are scores of other great schools for attracting young workers. Every year the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) ranks the top construction schools in a national competition. The students compete in a broad spectrum of 13 different categories; for example, Design Build, Marine Construction, Determining Project Risk, and more. Here are the competition rules:

“Several construction companies sponsor different categories for the students to compete in and act as the project owner looking for bids on a project. Student teams of up to six people are given a Request for Proposal, which includes a set of plans, specifications, and category-specific rules. The students are given up to 16 hours to prepare a project bid which includes an estimate, schedule, and presentation. Once the time deadline is up, the sponsoring company opens the bid package from each school and reads the estimate price out loud and makes sure that the bid package is complete. If any information is missing, the team either loses points or is disqualified. The teams are then given a time slot for the following day to present their estimate and answer questions from the sponsoring company in a bid review format.”

Research your state’s “Top Construction Management School” on this great reference site. Then contact the dean of your local college and see if there’s a (college) job board you can post to, a job fair that you can exhibit at, or an event you can sponsor; use your companies’ culture to differentiate to the Gen Y and Z’ers. Emerging job-seekers are very culture and community conscious!

Use Social Media

Recent college grads are not likely to use email, so you have to reach them where they consume information. This means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, texting and other emerging streams. Post job openings to FB and twitter with links, because this demographic wants information online or preferably from videos. Why not grab your iPhone and record the greatest things about your company and upload it to YouTube? Give them a call-to-action to request the job description by text, with a link.

Where to Find Experienced Workers

Hire a Vet!

What better way to say ‘thank you’ to personnel who have served in our country’s military than reward them with full time employment? And think about the skill set they will bring to the table – discipline, teamwork, and leadership! With a little research, I’ve found these sites that help you find vets:
•    VeteransBuildAmerica.org
•    HireVeterans.com
•    HelmetsToHardHats.org

Use Federal/State/City/Resources

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 is a federal law designed to improve the quality of the workforce, enhance the competitiveness of the nation, and reduce welfare dependency. Signed into law by President Clinton, the bill shifted the responsibility and accountability of programs to the state level.

In Phoenix, we have Arizona Workforce Connection. Here, employers and job seekers alike can find free resources. As an employer, you can post jobs, find job fairs to participate in, and access “unique” underutilized segments like disabled or mature workers.  From the Workforce Connection webpage, “To satisfy WIA requirements, Arizona also created more than 50 One-Stop Service Centers to serve the employment and training needs of job seekers, businesses, and communities located throughout the state. These centers offer a variety of programs to employers, job seekers, youth, mature workers, new entrants to the workforce, veterans, and persons with disabilities.”

Tap into your local, state, and federal agencies to reach the people who are actively seeking!

Pay it forward – volunteer!

There are a plethora of organizations that would benefit from your company’s goodwill. Your current employees will like it, and believe it or not, it’s a great recruiting tool! Encourage your employees’ participation and/or poll them for favorite causes. Spread the bonhomie on social media. People love a great give-back story, and the word-of-mouth buzz you can create is great publicity for the cause.

 

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