Solutions to Attract and Retain Skilled Workers
U.S. economic recovery continues to improve at a slow yet steady pace. The news is good for the construction and manufacturing industries, but behind the optimism lies a significant challenge – a lack of skilled workers.
The construction industry continues to experience employment improvement. Since 2010, when construction unemployment peaked at just over 27%, the rate has decreased annually to a current construction unemployment rate of just below 7%. That means more construction workers are working, but the pool of talent is shrinking considerably, especially since many of those employed in construction retired or permanently switched careers as a result of the Great Recession. The biggest challenge construction contractors face in 2015 continues to be finding and retaining the best talent. Inexperienced workers present significant risks to themselves and others in an industry as dangerous as construction.
In a September 2014 AGC Member Survey, 83% of respondents said they are having trouble filling construction craft positions. For example, 66% said they are having trouble filling Carpenter positions, 64% filling Roofer positions, 59% filling Equipment Operator positions, 54% filling Plumber positions, and 52% filling Electrician positions. Finding construction professionals has been somewhat less difficult than filling construction craft positions, but still poses a challenge – 61% of respondents said they are having trouble filling them. For example, 48% of respondents said they are having trouble filling Project Manager/Supervisor positions, 32% filling Estimator positions.
In the next decade the U.S. is predicted to face a shortage of approximately 2 million manufacturing employees. The two primary reasons are baby boomer retirement and fewer young people viewing manufacturing as a viable career.
Statistics are sobering:
In a survey of the American public, 90% of respondents said manufacturing is crucial to the country’s economic prosperity, yet only 37% said they would encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing. Why the gap? Probably because 66% believe manufacturing doesn’t provide stability and 75% think manufacturing jobs are the first to move offshore. Respondents between the ages of 19 and 35, furthermore, ranked manufacturing dead last in career choice among seven industries.
To solve the talent shortage, 94% of manufacturing executives plan to use internal employee training and development programs. Other solutions include schools and college involvement, external training and certification programs, and veteran hiring programs.
How to Retain and Attract Talent
With a significant talent shortage in both the construction and manufacturing industries, employers must focus not only on finding new talent but retaining current skilled workers. To retain the best and brightest, construction and manufacturing employers should consider the following: