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To Fix the Skilled Labor Shortage, the Construction Industry Needs More Mentors

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The skilled labor shortage is a concern for many builders; but, you can play a role in reversing the trend. Here are some of the top benefits of mentoring a young builder or contractor.

Why the Shortage Continues

Although the construction industry has been blessed with steady growth over the past several years, contractors have had a hard time finding qualified help. Much of this has to do with the lingering fallout of the market collapse in 2008. During that time, a large number of workers were forced to move on to other career opportunities. Now that the industry is booming, there aren’t enough young people to replace the older skilled workers who are retiring.

Other issues have contributed to the problem, including record-low unemployment and the narrative that all young people should pursue a four-year college degree. In the last couple of years, the trend appeared to be improving, as four-year institutions began reporting higher enrollments in construction trades. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily suggest improvement in the skilled labor shortage, especially since most of these students are working toward jobs in construction management, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Mentorships Can Help

Although experts agree that the construction industry needs an infusion of young talent, it isn’t expected to come from four-year universities. In a recent report assessing the reasons behind the lingering skilled labor shortage, HomeAdvisor named inadequate training resources, including a lack of mentorships and apprenticeships, as one of the largest impediments keeping young talent from pursuing or maintaining careers in the skilled labor market.

In light of this, industry stakeholders are challenging established construction professionals to invest more heavily in the success of young workers through personal, one-on-one mentoring and group training programs. This is a great way to give back, while establishing clearer paths into the skilled labor market.

In a 2017 survey, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) noted that about 50 percent of responding contractors were planning to invest more in employee development and training. Other surveys suggest that this sentiment is increasing throughout the industry, thanks in part to widespread calls for action, along with the recognition that the skilled labor shortage has become less of an inconvenience and more of an industry crisis.

According to another survey by HomeAdvisor, 93 percent of survey participants said they believed their companies would enjoy growth over the next year if not for hiring challenges. While some blame a lack of industry exposure and negative perceptions from keeping Millennials and other young people from pursuing skilled labor jobs; limited training resources appear to be the bigger problem.

In the same HomeAdvisor survey, respondents identified family support, apprenticeships and mentorship as instrumental in helping young workers grow in their professions. This appears to indicate that – while construction professionals may be the ones suffering most from the skilled labor shortage; they also seem to be in the best position to do something about it.

 

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