10 Ways Construction Firms Are Dealing with the Labor Shortage

Creative workforce ideas include using technology to woo prospects, pickup trucks as recruitment tools and labor-saving cold-formed steel (CFS) framing to build more efficiently.


DEEPBLUE SMARTHOUSE uses steel framing to build homes faster and with 10 times less labor.


1. Specify prefabricated cold-formed steel (CFS) building components

To help complete projects with less manpower, a growing number of architects and engineers are turning to prefabricated CFS building components.

CFS is the ideal choice for prefabricated construction because it is lightweight and can be cut to precise specifications.

A key benefit to prefabrication is its solution to the current worker shortage. Normally the firm handled its scope of work with only 6 crew members, instead of the 60 or 70 crews members that would have been required to stick-build off scaffolding.

2. Promote construction as a career, not as a job

Steel framing tradespeople can become experts in skillsets that will be marketable anywhere in the world. Emphasize that benefit to job prospects.


3. Highlight how the construction career path involves fulfilling multiple tasks, with multiple responsibilities, on multiple projects

Help help young to see how stimulating work can be. When they can picture their multi-function roles, they are also more inclined to commit to their construction jobs and appreciate their company leaders, ConstructionDive says.

4. Develop future leaders’ management skills

“As management invests in training and developing talent, you spend dollars maybe you haven’t historically spent,” says Shawn Burnum, president of Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry and vice president of operations at Performance Contracting, Inc. in Kansas, in the article, Business Management: Everything Under Control? in AWCI’s Construction Dimensions.

Burnum adds: “I love to find ways to make someone better versus trying to find another person.”

Shawn Burnum, AWCI president and vice president of operations at Performance Contracting. Photo courtesy of AWCI.

Of course, executives with construction companies need to get buy-in from their experienced job superintendents and other longtime staff members to build that next generation of leaders. Encourage all managers and supervisors to be willing to train, guide and groom less-experienced employees.

5. Pay higher wages — maybe

The Washington Post says Americans are in line for a big wage increase in 2022. Citing Conference Board data, businesses expect to bump up pay an average of 3.9 percent in 2022, the fastest wage growth since 2008.

However, AGC’s Basu says salary is not the sole determinant of workplace value. Some construction workers are willing to settle for less money if it means having more comfortable and safer working conditions.

Generation Z, the youngest generation in the workforce, for example, cares more about work conditions than pay, Basu says. They’re willing to take “a slightly lower-paying job, but with more predictability, both in the physical location of their workspace and [the] dangers of their work,” Basu says.

6. Show that your construction company’s injury rate is below the national average

Construction’s safety practices are important to attracting young talent to job postings. Low injury rates can help a firm create an air of trust over how it treats its people.

7. Show reasonableness in your worker expectations

Firms are attractive to young workers when they demonstrate that they value a good work-life balance. Show that your firm has an upbuilding company culture. Assign workers to job sites near to their homes, and communicate this to candidates.

8. Invest in technology

ConstructionDive says high-tech GPS-guided cranes, exoskeletons and other kinds of technology show job candidates that a firm is modernizing. Steel framing can make up part of this appeal, since much innovation is taking place in the industry.

9. Promote pickup trucks

Sizemore told ConstructionDive that a simple recruitment tool is showing young people what they can buy — pickup trucks.


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