Construction workforce outreach and recruitment tips

By Elizabeth Roddy, ABC of Wisconsin Recruitment & Training Director

Let’s face it, we are facing an uphill battle when it comes to recruiting the next generation of skilled professionals into our industry. However, the tide may be changing, and some people are starting to understand the awesome opportunities the construction industry offers. A decade ago, nearly all parents would discourage their children from choosing an apprenticeship over college. Today, more parents are happy to encourage their sons and daughters into the more accepted skilled construction careers. 

We have to remember, though, we are in an industry public relations race, and we have to treat this similarly to a marketing campaign. Here are a three tips to consider when doing your workforce recruitment: 

1. Keep it Positive. 

We can’t continue to lead with all the negatives of our industry, or we will scare off more people than we can ever recruit. Why do you like your job? Why have you continued to work in this industry? What is the neatest thing you have ever worked on? Start there. The military doesn’t start off their commercials talking about getting shot at, and similarly, we shouldn’t start our marketing out with talking about your two new knees or working in the cold. 

2. Talk About Long Range Opportunities. 

These are not dead-end jobs. This is an industry full of opportunity and potential careers that can take you around the country and in a variety of positions. This next generation is looking for ways to help others and do things to change the world – that is something this industry does every day. Modern society does not exist without the construction industry. 

3. Emphasize Financial Benefits 

The student loan crisis is real, but with the registered apprenticeship program and/or on-the-job training, there isn’t the financial burden of debt. Wages and benefits in our industry are very competitive, and they are continuing to rise as our skilled worker shortage increases. Not to mention, the financial benefits not directly on the paycheck; like fixing their own house, having a company vehicle, and being able to leave work at work. 

Making connections: 

Connecting with Your Local School Districts. 

Some school districts are easier to work with than others, and some just aren’t right fits. Talk with your employees who have kids, and find out the right person to talk to at the school. Check out Youth Apprenticeships (working while still in high school). Offer the school some extra supplies for their classes or invite them to tour a cool job site you are working on. 

Connecting with Your Community. 

Some communities have community-based programs that are specifically related to construction, and they can be a great resource in finding people. Figure out who the “person to know” is who can refer you to the local church or chamber of commerce or Rotary Club where you can make connections. 

The skilled worker shortage isn’t going to be solved overnight, but if each member can do a few things to encourage individuals to explore what our industry has to offer, we can make some gains in recruiting good, qualified workers into our profession. 

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