Building Construction Jobs
Building construction trades need workers
Over and over, we hear from our clients and other construction contractors one of the biggest problems they face is getting field workers. The reasons for the reduced workforce have been gone over so many times, my guess is I’m not the only one who is sick of hearing them. Yet, if you’re just aching to know, this article lists a few. I’m sort of over the “why” of the equation and would rather see a “how” come into play.
Of course, if I could give you a definitive “how” to get people back in the construction world, it would be game over. I could pick up my paycheck and move on to other endeavors. If I could sweep thousands of skilled and trained people on to construction sites, we would all be winners in a very short time frame. I can’t.
I’ve written a few articles about how to look for and how to try to keep good hands on board. They range from How to Hire a Knight in Shining Armor to a 3-part series concerning creating achievement-based bonus programs that don’t stink. You can find them here, here and here. And, they’re worth trying.
But, could there be more?
Do you want to see people enter the trades again?
Building construction in my dad’s day
Watching my dad lovingly rub his hand across the piece of wood he had just sawed, sanded, or nailed in place was a part of my everyday world from childhood to adulthood. Dad saw the materials of his trade as more than simple objects. He loved to touch the wood, hold the tool, “see” that which would be. He leaned into his craft with soul.
Yeah, the finished project was good. The joy in saying, “I built that,” is not measurable. Yet it was all the bits and pieces which came before which gave him daily pleasure.
It was the:
- coffee-marked blueprints
- smoke-filled air in the morning meetings (yep, cigarettes were part and parcel)
- silly or suitable nicknames of coworkers
- crazy jokes and stunts they played on one another
- help they gave one another in times of need
It was also:
- sighting down a 2X4 checking for flaws
- knowing what to do about the crazy knotholes
- “seeing” what was to come and knowing what would and would not work
- understanding how to hold tools properly
- getting the best outcome from the tools in his hands
Later it became:
- getting the most out of the crews in his charge
- knowing who he could count on to get the job done
- mediating disputes among workers or trades
- planning and scheduling
- hiring, laying off, and firing
Still later it became his dream of:
- puttering in his workshop
- refinishing and refurbishing furniture and other items
- building the long-delayed wall of shelves Mom wanted
- helping my hubby and me restore and remodel our first home
- serving as a volunteer on non-profit building projects
Yes, even after retirement it was the love of craft which kept his heart singing.
Building construction needs a new workforce
Helping people see, hear, and feel the day-to-day that makes up the ethos of being in the construction trades is (or should be) a part of your regular planning and action.
Set aside at least one hour a week to plan and strategize how you will reach the unreached groups of people who will fit in your industry. Once you’ve gotten a plan together start acting on it. Put it on your calendar.
Here are a few tactics:
Make sure all the high schools and colleges in your area know you (or someone in your employee) will be available to present on career day.
Talk to the directors or counselors at community colleges or trade schools concerning how you can work together to help the students.
Work with your trade association’s efforts to train and educate your present and future employees.
Let your friends, neighbors, and colleagues know you’re hiring and training. (Tell the person waiting on your dinner table, the clerk at the grocery store, your hair dresser, and the person who is balancing the tires on your truck. Tell everyone.)
Speak with the folks at the National Guard concerning how you can work with them.
Sign up with recruiting firms.
Visit halfway or transitional houses in your area and speak with the director about people who are ready to move on. Remember there are facilities like this for women too.
Get involved with any construction training centers in your area. If your trade isn’t represented, consider working with them to develop training.
Look for organizations like the ACCD (Association for Construction Career Development) found here in Arizona and get involved.
Use all your social media channels to get the word out about your openings.
Put banners on your office and shop.
Building construction is head, heart, and hands
If ever a segment of the work-a-day world depended on the trifecta of head, heart, and hands, it is the construction industry.
From the build-dream to the build-completion all three units remain involved.
Before Dad became a carpenter, he drove truck for a lumberyard. It was his job to take “stuff” to the jobsites. So, he touched the materials. Then, he heard the job sounds. And, he smelled the wood. He saw the camaraderie among the workers. Yep, he was hooked.
Helping people find their way into the trades is going to take time and it is going to take a paradigm shift in the thinking of many educators and parents.
Plus, it will take making a few changes in the thought processes of those already in the trades. For example, what if you thought of yourself (your construction company) as a talent development unit? Young people today understand the concepts behind mentoring even if they don’t use the word. They want someone who “gets it” to stand by their side.
It may take being willing to take a chance with someone who needs a second chance. It could be that the you have to learn new things in the areas of leadership, business acumen, or even the basics of entrepreneurship.
Building construction is honorable and respectable
Sure, you need people who have skills. You also need people who have the ability to learn. And, you need people who understand they aren’t simply pulling wire, or laying shingles, or joining pipe. You need people who know they’re doing their part to give someone a place to work, a place to worship, a place to heal, a place to sell their wares, a place to lounge before boarding, a place to eat and celebrate, a place to relax while traveling, or simply a place to look at and admire on those travels. Look for people who can see how important their part is in building America.
By the way, we do a little happy dance when we can help our clients find someone for their commercial construction business. We’ve done that. And, we do another happy dance when we add names to the payrolls of companies we know have been looking for workers.
It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses.
Because we are a virtual “corporate accounting office” for small to medium commercial construction businesses, and because it is our goal to help those businesses Run With the Big Dogs we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located.
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