Dealing With a Construction Industry Worker Shortage


By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media & 

Are you having difficulty finding qualified construction workers to fill job openings? According to a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America reported by Chain Store Age, contractors in most areas of the U.S. are adding employees—but are increasingly running into problems finding qualified workers.

As older construction workers retire, and young people focus on white-collar jobs rather than trades, the number of skilled construction workers is dwindling. The Association believes Congress should act on legislation to increase federal funding for career and technical education that would encourage more high school students to train for high-paying jobs in construction. But what can your construction business do in the meantime?

If you are struggling to find qualified employees, here are some steps you can take to keep your business running smoothly.

Focus on retaining your existing workers.

Find out what they need to be satisfied with their jobs. This may vary—for instance, younger workers just entering the industry may want to get experience on different types of projects, while older workers may care more about benefits—so the best way to know is to ask them.

Make your company a desirable place to work.

Skilled construction workers have their pick of jobs, so you’ll need to work a little harder to attract them You may need to increase salaries or highlight your attractive benefits. Safety is also important to skilled construction workers, so make sure your team is following your high safety standards.

Be prepared to pay overtime to existing workers.

It’s important to track their time correctly so you aren’t overpaying or underpaying your staff. Look for time tracking tools tailored for the construction industry—ones that offer features like mobile GPS location tracking, text messaging, and the ability for your workers to clock in on their cell phones via text or phone call.

Provide training in-house.

Have your skilled construction workers train entry-level employees to get them up to speed. The manufacturers you buy products from may also offer training in how to install their specific products, which can help your existing employees improve their skill levels.

Get help from manufacturers.

Even if the product manufacturers you work with don’t provide training, they probably offer installation services. Using their workers to do the installation isn’t free, but can be a solution when you have a shortage of qualified workers on your team.

Recruit through your existing employees.

Have your employees let their friends and family know you’re looking to hire. Offer referral bonuses for employees who refer people who end up getting hired. You can also encourage your employees’ children to follow in their parents’ footsteps by providing apprenticeships or training for youths after high school.

Develop relationships with local trade and technical colleges and apprenticeship programs.

Identify places in your community and surrounding areas that are training skilled construction workers, and let them and their students know that you’re looking to hire. You may even be able to advise schools on what skills are in shortest supply so they can focus on those areas in their training programs.

RievaRieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+  and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.