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Millennials are key to fixing the labor shortage

7 March 2017

Attracting the young generation with their skills in technology can help solve the labour crisis and streamline construction, says Taylor Ryan, head of marketing at GenieBelt.

The millennial generation is in the spotlight on different media platforms for all the right reasons. Companies in all industries are working out ways as to how they can lure young talent into their organisations and shape them into the future leaders of those companies.

The case is no different in construction. The workforce in the industry has declined in the past 10 years and due numerous factors, millennials have been slow to joins its ranks.

There are a few factors that have contributed to the shortage of labor in the construction industry.

It is filled with an ageing workforce, but their reluctance to retire means that there has been a much slower influx of new millennial workers into the sector. Most of those occupying experienced and top positions in this industry are of mature age and their eventual retirement will leave a huge gap to be filled. Without enough skills from our universities, growth in the construction industry is sure to be slower than other sectors.

Technology is contributing hugely to the skills crisis. New housing technologies require skills that the old guard doesn’t have and which construction companies need. Employment requirements needed 20 years ago are of no relevance today because of a shift in project management technology and the way houses are built: from idea conception to implementation of the project. Nowadays, even a casual laborer is required to have some computer skills to get employment.

Many construction companies have failed to adopt technology in the way they do business and this has been a big letdown at the expense of a younger generation seeking employment.

Millennials are considered to be a generation of creative problem solvers, readily accepting new ways of getting the old jobs done via software and better hardware. Companies that still do things the “old way” lose appeal over those that have adapted to the 21st century and are using the latest technology.

"Millennials are considered to be a generation of creative problem solvers, readily accepting new ways of getting the old jobs done via software and better hardware. Companies that still do things the 'old way' lose appeal over those that are using the latest technology."

Tech-oriented companies, filled with the younger generation from top to bottom, are more flexible to what is to come and will continue to edge their way past those that are averse to change. Mark Farmer’s concept of “modernise or die”, is echoing through the construction industry and it’s being felt now more than ever.

Millennials have a lot to offer the construction industry to help it grow and flourish. Some companies have done well bringing in younger blood into their organisations, which has helped to grow their profits. Those who have ventured into the industry are also performing well, which is an indicator that they are the answer to some of the problems currently faced in the sector.

The world around us is constantly changing and construction companies need to adopt new ways of running their business to cut down on operation costs. The millennial generation is technologically advanced and able to use digital tools that can streamline operations.

Construction is a multi-billion pound industry that has high returns. But the current economics favour creativity and cost-effective design. Millennials are coming up with new ways to construct buildings at a lower cost, which is badly needed.

What’s more interesting is that the less “glorified” labour jobs, such as plumbers, welders and electricians, are starting to fill out from a new generation that has seen older siblings struggling to pay the rent long after college was over.

These young workers go direct into the labour market and get on-the-job training or go into vocational training in lieu of college. Due to a shortage of workers, the salaries for these new workers can be better than most of their peers’ office jobs five years in.

The issue of labour shortage can effectively be addressed if construction jobs were made more appealing to the younger generation by companies actively working with specialised training programmes, diversifying and implementing technology at their firms.

The younger generation has all the potential, ideas, and tech skills that can go a long way to solving construction’s labour shortage crisis.

Image: Rawpixelimages/Dreamstime.com

Comments

Taylor Ryan has a point but also misses a point. Of course, young people are important to our construction industry, but Taylor Ryan is way off the mark if he thinks we "mature" builders are unused to change, unable to embrace new methodology, incapable of getting out of a rut!!
Many, many years ago I taught "The History Of Building" (in addition to being a day-to-day builder). I mention this because it's no use starting off a construction at knee height; what comes in the future is a development of, and built upon, what we learned in the past. Construction still means overcoming the elements; balancing and countering natural forces; controlling competing influences and delivering a good consumer experience on time-on budget-on spec.

Construction is not, and is unlikely ever to be, a paperwork exercise.

It will always need a blend of experience and energy to optimise its end product. So don't negate the contribution that older, or younger, exponents deliver to the process. Stress instead the TEAMWORK across the spectrum.
Victor Cooper MCIOB
Director
Age Positive

victor cooper, 7 March 2017

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