Construction Industry Embracing Young Talent

Construction Industry Embracing Young Talent

The construction industry has seen a significant shift in its approach to workforce development, with an increasing emphasis on attracting and retaining young talent.

According to a recent article on Construction Dive, construction employers have ramped up their pursuit of young workers – and college students, in particular.

Handshake, a career-finding platform focused on college students, saw a 46% increase in construction employer outreach to students over the past year.

The industry’s increased interest in a younger workforce is driven by several factors, including an aging existing workforce, technological advancements, and changing expectations among younger generations.

Two construction smiling construction workers.
The construction industry has seen a significant shift in its approach to workforce development, with an increasing emphasis on attracting and retaining young talent.

According to a report published by Handshake, current computer science and related majors are looking to construction as a place to start their careers largely due to the lack of opportunities at tech firms like Google or Amazon, where recent waves of layoffs have made national headlines.

Matt Rosentreter, talent generation manager at Kansas City, Missouri-based architecture and construction firm Burns & McDonnell, told Construction Dive that “We’re seeing an increased need for different backgrounds on projects.”

“Finance, business analytics, virtual design and even computer science continue to add new perspectives and ideas creating opportunities on projects and in the industry as a whole.”

One of the primary challenges facing the construction industry is the aging workforce. As older workers retire, there is a growing need to fill the gap with younger, skilled workers. However, the industry has historically struggled to attract younger generations, who often perceive construction jobs as physically demanding, dangerous, and lacking in long-term career prospects.

Three smiling construction workers pose for a photo.
Construction companies and industry organizations are implementing various strategies to appeal to younger workers.

To address these perceptions, construction companies and industry organizations are implementing various strategies to appeal to younger workers. These include:

Emphasizing Technology and Innovation: The construction industry is increasingly adopting new technologies such as drones, virtual reality, and building information modeling (BIM). By highlighting the technological aspects of construction, companies can attract young workers who are interested in tech-driven careers.

Providing Education and Training Opportunities: Many construction firms are partnering with educational institutions to offer apprenticeships, internships, and training programs. These initiatives provide hands-on experience and a clear pathway to career advancement, making the industry more attractive to young workers.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: Younger generations value diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Construction companies are making efforts to create a more welcoming environment for women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups – but they still trail other industries in this area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.9% of construction employees in 2022 were women, 6.7% were Black and 2.1% were Asian. Handshake reported that Hispanic employees make up more than 30% of construction workers, but they often work in areas with less opportunity for advancement.

Offering Competitive Compensation and Benefits: To compete with other industries, construction companies are improving their compensation packages. This includes offering higher wages, health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits that appeal to young workers.

Highlighting Career Opportunities: The construction industry offers a wide range of career paths, from skilled trades to management and engineering roles. Companies are emphasizing the potential for professional growth and long-term career development to attract ambitious young workers.

Fostering a Positive Work Culture: A supportive and positive work environment is crucial for retaining young talent. Construction companies are focusing on building strong team dynamics, providing mentorship opportunities, and ensuring a healthy work-life balance.

Engaging with Schools and Communities: To reach potential young workers, construction firms are actively engaging with schools, colleges, and community organizations. They are participating in career fairs, hosting workshops, and providing resources to educate students about the opportunities in the construction industry.

Leveraging Social Media and Digital Platforms: Younger generations are highly active on social media and digital platforms. Construction companies are using these channels to showcase their projects, share success stories, and connect with potential recruits.

The construction industry's efforts to attract young workers are beginning to show results. There is a growing interest among younger generations in pursuing careers in construction, driven by the promise of technological innovation, career advancement opportunities, and a renewed focus on workplace culture.

There is still work to be done. The industry must continue to adapt to the changing expectations of young workers and ensure that it remains an attractive and viable career option. This will require ongoing investment in training and education, a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and a willingness to embrace new technologies and ways of working.

The construction industry's pursuit of young workers is a critical step towards addressing its workforce challenges. By appealing to the values and interests of younger generations, the industry can secure a talented and diverse workforce that will drive its future success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What skills and qualifications are needed to work in the construction industry?

Skills and qualifications can vary depending on the specific role. For entry-level positions, a high school diploma or equivalent may be sufficient. However, many roles require technical skills, which can be acquired through vocational training, apprenticeships, or certifications. For higher-level positions, such as project management or engineering, a college degree may be necessary. Additionally, physical fitness, attention to detail, and teamwork are important skills in the construction industry.

Is construction work safe?

Safety is a top priority in the construction industry. Employers are required to provide safety training and adhere to strict safety regulations to minimize risks. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandatory on construction sites. While construction work can involve physical labor and some risk, ongoing safety improvements and regulations have significantly reduced the number of accidents and injuries in the industry.

What are the career advancement opportunities in construction?

The construction industry offers a wide range of career advancement opportunities. Entry-level workers can progress to skilled trade positions, supervisory roles, or even project management with experience and additional training. There are also opportunities for specialization in areas such as sustainability, technology, or design. Continuing education and professional certifications can further enhance career prospects in the construction industry.