The skilled labor shortage within the industry has been around for many years now. I’d say around 11 years now, dating back to 2006 when things started to take a turn for the worse. The thing is, this issue is just as of recent really becoming a concern amongst various people, firms, and companies within the industry. Why did it take so long for this issue to become serious? Has this problem been affecting you for some time?
A survey that was done by HomeAdvisor had 93% of respondents say that the biggest cause of their businesses not being able to grow was due to the labor shortage. You could hire people, but it can be difficult. With the older generation headed out of the skilled labor force, and the millennials believing that this trade is difficult and doesn’t pay well, are the two over-arching issues that will make hiring a difficult process.
Causes of the problem
Why young people aren’t in the skilled trade
There is one over-arching theme as to why millennials are not going into the skilled labor force. That is they are not educated enough about the trade. Myself included. I’ve read some different articles from a variety of sources, and that seems to be what everyone can agree upon. The problem that also seems to arise in the articles is that there is a negative connotation put on the skilled trades. The thought is that it is a lot of hard work, doesn’t pay well, and there may be no opportunities to advance. I can attest to this, because I have felt the same way about the industry. I never really had the opportunity to learn about the trade, because I was pressured to go to college thinking that was the best way to land a job when I had that degree.
The older generation is retiring
This is something that everyone is aware of, and why the industry is starting to become incredibly concerned about the future. As stated before, the young generation does not have the education about the skilled trade industry. When this reality begins to come to fruition, and the older generation is out, there is going to be an incredibly large hole to fill within the industry. Which creates a big gap in experience within the industry.
Is there a solution to the problem?
I’m sure that every industry expert has a different way that could help solve the problem going forward. A majority of them will probably work too, which is great. Here is an idea that I have gathered from research, and that is to utilize technology. Now when I say utilize, I mean integrate it into the jobsite and other areas within the business. There has been some integration already, and it’s fitting because of the era that we live in. This could be a huge draw for the younger generation. Showing them that technology is in fact a big part of the industry, and it can be full of innovative work that will improve society. Which I feel is what our generation really wants to achieve. Something that will help not only themselves, but others around them. Being able to look back and say I was a part of that structure, or whatever it may be, creates a sense of accomplishment.
Education goes hand-in-hand with the technology aspect of the business. It seems as if the younger generation is not aware of the technological advances within the industry. A lot of the young generation, myself included at one time, are not aware. So why not launch programs that teach them that there is in fact technology within the industry. With a collaborative effort amongst industry leaders, this could happen. Just creating a general idea that the industry is in fact a great place to be, with good benefits, pay and many more items, it could go a long way. I was reading an article from Forbes, and what they discovered through a survey done by the Department of Labor, the carpentry business will increase by 24% by 2022 alone. So there is potential upside to this problem!
Going off all of this, and some knowledge I have accrued over my schooling, I have come up with an idea that works entirely on its own, and the skilled trade industry doesn’t have to do anything with it. Although they can make a marketing campaign that spins off of this. That is the fact that the tuition rates for colleges have been steadily rising over the years, and continue to do so. It is a trend that I have had countless conversations about, and all point towards a future where college will be less intriguing because of the debt that students will be in after they graduate. It is pushing kids away from going to college, and I heard it all the time talking to peers on campus. Kids leave because they simply know they can’t afford to go to school. It is a great opportunity for the construction business to take part in. They can easily differentiate themselves. Even if a specific skill requires two years of trade school, the cost is far less, and the debt will be paid off in no time.
All in all, there is definitely possibility for this declining work force within the construction industry to bounce back. It could be at an alarming rate too. I think once the younger generation gathers the knowledge about the industry, and discovers that there is potential to grow, they will jump on. I’m just going to take a rough guess, but I would say within the next 10 years we will see the new trend. There is definitely a problem now, and I hope that the things being spoken of will be implemented, and we will get the workforce back!