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Time to Reskill Residential

I have long been talking about the need to recruit, reskill, and upskill workers in industries such as manufacturing. The same can be said about construction. As demonstrated by a Construction Labor Market Report recently published by the HBI (Home Builders Institute), the residential construction industry will need to train and place a tremendous 2.2 million new workers within the next three years to meet the United States’ housing demands. Let’s take a look.

The good news is we are seeing a much greater effort to promote building careers among young children. In fact, earlier this month at the NAHB (National Assn. of Home Builders), IBS (Intl. Builders Show), and KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show), the three organizations announced a new agreement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to introduce more of America’s youth to a future career in residential construction.

Working together to promote construction career pathways, NAHB and Boys & Girls Clubs of America will connect young people to individuals in the industry, providing them with work-based learning activities and access to essential skills development programs to further their career exploration.

That’s a great start, but we need to continue this level of engagement once they enter the workforce, and a new report suggests this might not be the case. Candidly, this is truly where the rubber meets the road if we want our youth to stay in the trades and become the leaders within organizations.

The recent study—while perhaps still too early to indicate a sweeping overall industry trend—it does present some key indicators that should be raising eyebrows when looking at the residential construction industry and presents some very alarming facts. Building Talent Foundation launched a survey of tradespeople’s opinions about their career plans with support of Leading Builders of America. The objective of the survey was to better understand the current levels of engagement and priorities among tradespeople working on residential construction jobsites as compared to other industries.

The results were interesting to say the least. Among tradespeople on residential construction jobsites, 42% are engaged, 28% are not engaged, and 30% are neither engaged nor disengaged. Further, out of all tradespeople working on residential construction jobsites, 51% are planning to stay in their jobs, while 35% are thinking about another job, and 14% are disengaged, but not yet thinking of leaving their job.

Here is perhaps one of the most interesting pieces to come out of this survey: The group most likely to be thinking of another job is those tradespeople with one-to-five years of experience. By the time they have been trained, invested in, and add real value to employers, more than two out of five of this group are thinking of another job.

Why? According to survey respondents, they want opportunities for career advancement, training, and learning new skills. The next most cited reason was their boss treating them well and feeling valued and respected at work. Here’s the point. While compensation does in fact matter, this study reveals it is not the most important factor in employee engagement. A lack of career advancement, training, and development was the top reason people wanted to leave their jobs.

Yes, we need to recruit young workers, but we also need to reskill, upskill, and treat them well in the residential construction industry. Perhaps that is the missing piece of the puzzle now. Maybe our current managers and leaders need a little refresher on training the softer skills. Those softer skills are just as essential as their construction management roles to help in developing their skills and developing future recruits in areas such listening, accepting and giving feedback, and even providing feedback.

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