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As construction gears back up, many companies are experiencing a labor shortage and having trouble finding skilled people. But, as Cory Kruse, President of Orion Talent, tells Pro Builder, construction companies should set their sights beyond recruiting toward retention.

Labor Shortage

One reason for the labor shortage the construction industry is experiencing is that other industries want that same talent. And that talent is in short supply. “It’s getting tougher to recruit and retain workers. We’re not seeing the number of folks we used to see entering the trades early, and demand is outpacing that,” explains Cory. With this in mind, he advises that companies look at non-traditional labor pools.

Diversity Should Be the Norm

Construction has often suffered from a myopic view of what segments their employees should come from. Cory suggests employers go beyond that, ignore their perceived specific employee profile, and reach out to groups they had not considered. This will go a long way in overcoming this shortage. a general lack of training on the front end, have contributed to the shortage. For example, Cory illustrates, “One out of every hundred skilled workers in the field is a woman. [That’s progress,] yet women make up almost 50% of the total workforce.”

Start on the Front End

The key to recruiting the best people is a good employee value proposition. Posting a job isn’t enough. Construction employers need to show what it is like to work there and what the future could hold. Cory says that companies should focus on trade schools, investing in alternative educational opportunities, considering flexible employment configurations, and look at part-time or temp to hire.
Retention is Key

“There’s a shortage of companies willing to invest in a training program as well as a career progression program for employees. That is, not only training them to do a task, but putting them in a career development program…,” says Cory.

This development is key to retention. He advises employers to equip managers to develop their talent, know how to better manage their workforce, and how to be the best managers. After all, people typically go to work for people, not for companies.

And when people do leave, you need to know why. Conducting exit interviews ensure you are providing the best talent offering you can within your financial capabilities. “You do invest a bit more money in people, and that's not only talent acquisition, that's talent management,” says Cory.

Hire Military

The military has been a great source of talent for construction for a long time and continues to be a great solution to the labor shortage. “They've got thousands of enlisted individuals, officers, and command staff that make an ideal fit for the construction industry, whether that's because of direct experience or experience working on construction teams to build or repair or service structures,” explains Cory, “Most veterans develop skills during their years of service that translate well into many workplace scenarios, whether it's in entry-level or management roles, blue or white collar.”

Putting It All Together

Combating the construction industry labor shortage is a multi-step process. Cory advises companies to look beyond their tradition talent pools, reconsider how they are recruiting this talent, and then focus on retaining them. You can read more of Cory’s insight here. And you can learn more about the various roles veterans can play across all segments of construction here.