5 Ways to Close the Construction Skills Gap

Construction workers placing a section of bridge

The construction industry has been experiencing a skills gap for years, with too many open positions and not enough skilled workers to fill them. This has been causing both efficiency and safety issues for construction organizations and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. While the gap isn’t likely to close quickly, there are several things that can be done to slowly close it.

Invest in youth

More than one in three American workers are Millennials, and Generation Z, which is still coming of age, already represents 3% of the workforce. High schools push students toward four year colleges, which may not be the best option for many reasons. Talk to local high schools to ask about having a booth at career fairs or the opportunity to meet with students to discuss career paths. Companies can also create a scholarship specific to students entering a trade school to offset the costs of tuition. If a company scholarship is not possible, consider donating to a preexisting scholarship program like the MikeRoweWORKS scholarship.

Provide opportunities for lifelong learners

Young people aren’t the only potential solution. Looking at your own workforce, identify ways to provide learning opportunities for workers already on the team in order to upskill or reskill workers a needed. Give your employees the opportunity to attend seminars, online training or webinars. Be vigilant about keeping certifications and mandatory learning requirements up to date and keep track of it all with a learning management system.

Cross mentor to address gaps in expertise

It’s important to remember that mentorship can (and should) be a two-way street. Look at the strengths of different members of your workforce. Many Millennial employees are going to be early adopters of mobile technology and can help integrate mobile technology into the workplace. More senior employees have greater expertise when it comes to specialized machinery or workplace safety. Both parties have something to teach the other, so take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that already exists within the organization to make individual workers stronger and maintain a strong knowledge base as Baby Boomers continue to exit the workforce.

Advocate for the trades

With more and more legislation focusing on funneling students into four year institutions, trade schools and technical universities are at risk of being left behind, causing the skills gap to widen. Call your state and national representatives to advocate for education policies that are inclusive of the trades. Look for coalitions and initiatives that help provide opportunities for trade workers and veterans, who could also be part of the solution and ask how to help them.

Embrace diversity

When employees come from unique backgrounds, they bring unique experience and knowledge to the workforce. Through outreach to these minorities, companies not only remain compliant with OFCCP standards, but they also experience serious return on investment and increase the collective knowledge and skillset of their organization with opportunities to teach the rest of the employee base about their areas of expertise.

Though the skills gap affects everyone in the industry, taking the above steps may help reduce its impact. The BirdDogHR Recruitment and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can also help companies attract top talent and make tracking their applicants a simple, streamlined process. Schedule a demo today to learn more.