Where Are They? Finding a Skilled Construction Workforce in the Current Market

Bryant Black

Director, Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership

Finding skilled workers can be the hardest part of growing your business. The skilled workforce is dwindling as fewer young people enter the skilled trades and more people age out into retirement.
We want that magic bullet to tell us where to find skilled workers ready for job deployment, but seeking an instant solution to a long-term problem creates the hire-and-fire cycle of many construction companies.

Suppose you continue to find yourself wondering where to find skilled construction workers. In that case, it’s time to start the journey of finding and retaining the best-skilled construction workforce for better project efficiency.

6 Questions to Ask About Your Workforce Talent Pipeline

Take a look at the top six questions for trade partners to ask when looking for a better-skilled construction workforce talent pipeline:

  1. Who do you need?
  2. What do you need them to do?
  3. When do you need them on a job site?
  4. Where will you find them?
  5. Why will they stay?
  6. How will you grow their skills?
  7. Let’s dive in to find some answers to these questions.

1. Who Do You Need?

Understanding who you want to hire is the single most important question any business owner can ever ask about their skilled workforce.

Permanent or Temporary?
This can be a very difficult question to answer. Do I need someone to stay with me and grow because the business is growing? Or is this a short-term temporary position needed to complete work on a seasonal level or large-scale project?

When looking to build a skilled construction workforce, it is better to be focused on growth and permanence than hiring for temporary work accelerations.

Temporary workers, while valuable for seasonal work or to help quickly finish a job, are largely unskilled. If your company truly needs skilled construction workers, it is important that you identify their skill sets and how you will utilize them on the job site to quickly screen out anyone who doesn’t match your long-term or short-term strategic need.

 

2. What Do You Need Them to Do?

This is the $1,000,000 question! Having a clear understanding of the expectations on the job for your employees leads to better hiring. Of course, you know exactly what good looks like when you see it on a job site. Capturing the competencies necessary for your job is simply a function of answering that question: “What does good look like?”

Be sure to answer the question of what good looks like for each of the following categories:

  • Basic construction knowledge
  • Equipment, tools, and materials handling
  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Trade-specific job duties
  • Company culture

 

3. When Do You Need Them on the Job Site?

The more urgent your need, the more likely you will buy or borrow your talent. But if you are working toward the future, building your talent is a long-term solution to your skilled construction workforce issue.
Buy vs. Borrow vs. Build

  • Buy your talent: utilizing a strategy to attract and hire labor that is currently skilled and working in the industry either in another geography, sector, or with another company.
  • Borrow your talent: utilizing a third party to supply your labor pool for either a short-term demand or to try an employee on a temporary basis before hiring them full-time.
  • Build your talent: utilizing internal and external training programs to create skilled construction workers.

 

4. Where Will You Find Them?

There are a lot of places you can look to find potential workers who are skilled or want to be skilled. Here are a few of the best ways to identify a potential workforce:

  1. Employee referral: after all, nobody knows what it takes to work for you better than a currently successful employee.
  2. Job boards: construction-specific hiring sites are popping up with more consistency. They are worth trying, just like the tried-and-true hiring sites LinkedIn and Indeed.
  3. Word of mouth: utilizing your peer groups and cohorts in the industry is another way to identify potential candidates.
  4. Hiring fairs with organizations like Construction Career Collaborative (C3): get involved in C3!
  5. High schools, community colleges, and trade schools: if you are preparing for the future, a great place to look is the people who are currently educating individuals who will soon enter the workforce.

 

5. Why Will They Stay?

Putting in all the work to find a skilled construction workforce doesn’t make sense if they don’t stay with your company. Talking about how to retain your employees is a topic for another day, but it’s critical that each company puts thought into their culture. Hammr.com lists the following as critical to creating a culture of retention.

Keys to Company Culture

  • Consistent pipeline of work
  • Family-friendly schedules
  • Competitive salaries
  • Health benefits
  • Safe work environments
  • Positive company culture
  • Career advancement opportunities
  • Skills development
  • Job security

 

6. How Will You Grow Their Skills?

Continue to invest in your people! Here are three actions you can take.

  1. Refer to your answers on “What do you need them to do?”
  2. Create competency maps that build a career path for the skilled construction workforce.
  3. Tie skill growth to your company culture.

Find More Help on Where to Find Skilled Construction WorkersYou don’t have to go at it alone building a talent pipeline for your company. If you need help getting started with building your skilled workforce talent, reach out to C3.

Call us today for a consultation. We can be reached at 713-999-1013.

Have Questions About Partnering with C3?

Reach out to us for assistance.