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Craftsmen Recruiting, A Look at the Future


“CONSTRUCTION WORKERS NEEDED: Please do not apply if you oversleep, have court often, do not have a babysitter every day, have to get rides to work later than our work day begins, experience flat tires every week, have to hold on to a cell phone all day, or will become an expert at your job with no need to learn or take advice after the first day. Must be able to talk and work at the same time. Must also remember to come back to work after lunch. Should not expect to receive gold stars for being on time.”

The aforementioned passage is from a classified ad that’s recently gone viral, partially for its comedic value, but primarily due to the truth behind its words. Simply put, quality workers have become a rarity in recent years, and it’s a trend that’s hitting general contractors where it hurts the most – out in the field.

It’s an issue that’s affecting construction companies of all sizes, from small startups to industry giants, as the pool of qualified laborers continues to dry up. While smaller GCs are feeling the brunt of it, this industry wide drought has left nearly every self-performing contractor praying for rain.

And while employers are hard-pressed to find someone reliable enough to perform general labor, the biggest problem has been finding skilled craftsmen. From pipefitters and welders to carpenters and framers, the number of tradesmen in the construction industry has continued to plummet since the last recession, even predating it in some markets.

According to a recent report by the Associated General Contractors of America, 85 percent of construction companies are experiencing difficulty when it comes to filling craft positions, primarily the hourly ones. It couldn’t be happening at a worse time either, because the industry as a whole is booming with contractors’ backlogs continuing to grow. There simply aren’t enough people to do the work.

While the recession tends to be the scapegoat for a lot construction’s woes, it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this particular problem, said Darren Jackson, a senior project manager at Jackson & Associates.

“A large number of people left the industry after the recession, but the number of retiring craftsmen continues to grow,” Jackson said, adding there aren’t enough millennials entering the field to offset the exodus.

“More people want to try and go to college than enter the trades,” he explained. “What they don’t realize is you can earn as much money or more in a lot less time.”

To remedy this situation, a lot of companies are starting to offer a variety of incentives, ranging from generous sign-on bonuses to company paid certifications.

“They’re paying for schooling, for continuing education,” Jackson elaborated. “In some cases, contractors are even offering family scholarships to help their craftsmen’s children. They’re also providing more stable work weeks, with a focus on work-life balance.”

While it’s true that most firms are sinking a lot of dollars into such things, along with higher base pay and better benefits, some GCs are also turning to BIM and other virtual methods in an effort to pick up the slack. Furthermore, nearly 50 percent of construction companies are upping bid prices with half of them incorporating longer completion times into those bids, the latter reflecting the understandable need to buy time.

Fortunately, we’re in a position to help.

For the past 20 years, Jackson & Associates has been matching qualified, reliable personnel with construction companies across the nation. While we’ve built our brand filling some of the highest positions in the industry, we’ve also managed to keep one foot in the field, maintaining close ties with workers of all levels.

The bottom line is Jackson Executive Search can do a lot more than find you a tradesman; we can help you develop a team.

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