Construction Industry Unemployment Rate Drops, But Skilled Labor Gap Remains


February saw the biggest jump in construction jobs filled since March 2007. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 61,000 construction jobs were filled in February, which significantly improved the industry's unemployment rate year over year.

While this is a positive indicator for growing interest in the construction industry—and perhaps even for meeting the rising demand for construction—one must wonder if these jobs are actually being filled by the skilled labor they require. Are construction companies able to hire workers that know how to get the job done, or do these new employees require large amounts of training and supervision?

It is inevitable that there will be a percentage of new employees that require care and attention in order to learn the trade, however this massive jump in construction jobs filled in one month (and 185,000 in the last 4 months) begs the question of whether our industry has thrown in too many of these inexperienced folks too soon and all at once.

Finding Talent in the Next Wave of Workers

It’s no secret that attracting skilled construction professionals is still one of the biggest issues facing the industry. While the push for more construction courses, apprenticeships and trade school incentives continues, contractors are also having to adapt to a new wave of employees—millennials. Their needs, desires and how they view their career paths tend to differ widely from those that have made up the traditional construction workforce. Gaining their interest means offering leading-technologies for them to work with, internships other growth opportunities, and a work environment that is in tune with modern culture.

With the dearth in the construction talent pool, contractors should aim to hire a blend of both skilled laborers who know their way around a jobsite and new laborers that are less familiar with the trade and need to learn how to do it well. Hiring in this way will ensure skilled talent is still being brought in, while committing to training and education for the next wave of workers. Jobs get done, a productive learning environment permeates, and it ultimately allows the contractor to assemble the best team.

But how can construction companies find those elusive skilled laborers, while appealing to workers outside of the industry—especially as the number of jobs increases and there are so many positions to fill?

Building Better teams with Technology

Fortunately, in this period of rapid change for the construction industry, technology solutions have surfaced that can be of great help when it comes to attracting the right talent, training and onboarding them effectively, and making sure that their needs are met from an HR perspective.

Some standalone solutions exist today, while others tie directly into construction ERP platforms, providing full employee lifecycle management, from recruitment to retention. Meanwhile, construction software and ERP systems themselves are providing robust human resources, onboarding, training and employee management tools.

With construction job growth on the rise, companies should be implementing both the strategies and technologies that keep them fully engaged in today’s labor market. Finding tools that expand and accelerate job distribution, deploying the technologies that younger, more tech-driven workforces want to work with and developing succinct career paths and programs that highlight personal growth might just be the answer to attracting and keeping the talent needed to thrive as a contractor today.

Learn more about leading-edge construction software is engaging employees, streamlining their work and providing improved collaboration across the office, team and field.