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Emil @ ZCPA: How construction companies can cope with the skilled labor shortage

Even before the pandemic and “the Great Resignation” that followed, construction businesses were facing a shortage of skilled workers. Recent events have only exacerbated the problem. And the skilled labor shortage doesn’t just make it harder to put boots on the ground for projects. It also heightens the risk of safety and quality issues.

There isn’t one right strategy for solving the dilemma. Construction companies need to get creative. Here are some ideas for coping:

Engage interns or create apprenticeships. Partner with local high schools, community colleges or trade schools to establish internship, apprenticeship and skills certification programs. These programs can be attractive to students — especially if they offer a strong likelihood of eventually being hired.

Go digital. Traditional hiring techniques are no longer enough. Take advantage of social media sites, online job boards and other digital solutions. Younger prospects are far more likely to conduct a job search online, and the Internet makes it easy to expand the search beyond your geographical market. Skilled workers in other parts of the state or country, where jobs are harder to come by, may be willing to relocate to secure a quality job with a reputable business.

Take advantage of job-site technology. Recent advances in construction tech enable contractors to do more with fewer people. For example, you can use a drone for site surveys, job monitoring and inspections. On an even more sophisticated level, construction robots can perform tasks such as building walls or running equipment.

Also look into robotic process automation (RPA) software. It automates certain repetitive tasks — such as creating invoices, generating estimates, processing vendor invoices and managing documents. In turn, this may lower labor costs, reduce errors and free up workers for more critical activities. RPA can even be used to respond to certain inquiries from customers or prospects.

When used properly, these technologies enhance efficiency and productivity. In addition, they reduce risk. For instance, using drones or robots frees workers from having to perform some dangerous tasks. They also offer a recruiting advantage: Adopting these tools creates a more tech-savvy culture that’s attractive to younger workers who wish to learn about and use cutting-edge technologies.

Strengthen your “employer brand.” Every company, construction or otherwise, should have an easily recognizable brand that inspires trust in customers. However, you also need an employer brand that builds trust in your business as a jobs provider and draws the interest of candidates.

To distinguish yourself from the competition, offer workers value beyond compensation. Examples include vacation and other paid time off, training programs, opportunities for greater work-life balance and a clear career path. Hiring has been increasingly difficult for most employers — strengthening your employer brand will give you a fighting chance at attracting top talent.

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