Construction Workforce Development: Building for the Next Generation
Workforce development in the construction industry used to mean apprenticeships, trade schools, and good old-fashioned On-the-Job Training (OJT).
Very few construction companies had active outreach programs for recruiting new talent. And even fewer companies invested in training programs to upskill their existing workforce.
But the demand for skilled craft workers, forepersons, superintendents, and project managers has spurred many companies to get creative to meet the growing demand for skilled workers.
The current state of workforce education
Today, many firms are partnering with local schools, universities, and community colleges to develop a pipeline of qualified applicants specific to their needs. Sometimes these programs offer paid internships, mentorship opportunities, and even college credit leading to a degree.
And according to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), member companies are also increasing their commitment to training their existing talent, investing $1.6 billion in craft, leadership, and safety education in 2021.
New construction education providers are also emerging, offering basic skills training, advanced leadership training, and career development opportunities for the existing workforce.
The tide is shifting, and opportunities abound for companies committed to attracting new talent and developing the construction professionals that will define the future of our industry.
What is workforce development?
Workforce development programs educate current and future employees to equip them with the skills necessary to improve their performance, increase job satisfaction, and meet their employers’ business needs.
A well-planned workforce development program enhances employee performance and productivity while offering better career opportunities. And that benefits everyone involved: employees, businesses, and communities.
Workforce development programs addresses industry needs through various channels:
- Retention & Upskilling: Retention and upskilling programs are aimed at current employees and can include basic skills training programs, advanced skills training, certification programs, and career education leading to advanced degrees.
- Outreach & Recruiting: Construction companies can recruit from primary, secondary, and post-secondary educational institutions, 3rd party institutions, job centers, career fairs, and trade schools.
- Diverse Recruitment: Opening employment opportunities to disadvantaged communities, those with disabilities, or those learning new crafts from NGOs and volunteer groups.
To develop the next generation of construction industry leaders, we must adopt new methods to entice future craft workers, supervisors, and project managers into the workforce.
The need for a skilled workforce in the construction industry
As of October 2022, over 400,000 positions remain unfilled, and roughly 40% of the current workforce will retire in the next decade.
And with over $500 billion pouring into national infrastructure development, the construction industry must move fast.
Associated Builders and Contractors research predicts the construction industry needs to hire over 650,000 new workers just to keep up.
The construction industry is changing rapidly. New technology is flooding the industry and changing the way we build. Fewer young people are entering the trades, and the older generation is retiring soon.
The construction sector will face many labor challenges in the coming years, but opportunities still exist.
Workforce development resources for the construction industry
Firms looking for competitive advantage need to look no further than their own front door. The following organizations provide training, support, and advocacy for the construction industry and are well worth investigating.
In fact, the future of the construction industry depends on it.
National & Government Resources:
Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) offers programs in
- Building Information Modeling,
- Lean Construction,
- Project Management,
- Supervision Fundamentals, and
- Supervisory Training.
AGC also provides Safety, Construction Project Management, Advanced Management, and Leadership programs. The AGC programs qualify for continuing education credits (CEUs) and national certification.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) provides its members affordable training and incentives through its college partnership programs.
ABC helps industry professionals develop managerial and craft skills and even offers courses and certification to become a certified education course leader through its Effective Educator Program.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Public Workforce System assists business owners in finding employees through various means, including job centers, apprenticeship training, and education centers. It educates business owners on screening processes and how to aid employee development.
Rework America Alliance works with employers and training providers to create opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged groups.
The Rework America Alliance program is an excellent opportunity for construction companies to assist communities and improve their local economies while developing a strong workforce for the future.
NCCER is the National Center for Construction Education & Research: This national training initiative sets the standards for national and international crafts and construction credentials. NCCER programs promote employee upward mobility through skills assessments, continuing education, and training programs.
Private workforce development providers for the industry
Arcade Wayfinding offers project management and supervisor training for the construction industry. They also have an informative podcast for those in high-level construction leadership positions to stay abreast of industry trends.
Construct-Ed provides online construction management training. They provide training that allows an individual to upskill and enter the construction industry at a more senior level. Construct-Ed may be an ideal training solution for your current employees.
Elevate Construction has multiple education tracts for superintendents, field engineers, and field supervisors. Elevate Construction teaches leadership, team building, quality and time management skills, and how to implement technology for the most significant impact on the job site and office.
What are the benefits of developing the workforce?
There are many benefits to implementing a workforce development program within a construction company.
First, it allows the company to proactively attract and retain top talent and create a pipeline of qualified workers familiar with its culture and values.
Second, workforce development programs create opportunities for existing employees to advance their careers.
Research demonstrates that employee retention is the most cost-effective means of developing a stable, skilled workforce.
And finally, workforce development initiatives help to bridge the gap between employers and employees, helping to ensure that all parties are working together to build a stronger, more unified community.
Construction companies that invest in internal training, work with 3rd party institutions, and develop employee retention programs will benefit their businesses and communities for future generations.
The critical need for proactive workforce development
The construction industry is facing a crucial moment.
An aging workforce threatens the industry, declining enrolment in trade schools and higher education, and a growing skills gap prevent construction companies from capitalizing on the advances of technology to the same degree as other industries.
Strategic workforce development is critical to solving the current labor crisis and positioning the construction industry for long-term success.
Construction companies need to focus on attracting and developing the next generation of construction professionals to create a sustainable future for the industry.
Consider a workforce management system built for the construction industry.
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