General contractors and construction managers are raising red flags on construction’s eroding labor picture, according to FMI, a provider of management consulting, investment banking and research to the engineering and construction industry. Better than half say they are feeling the pinch of labor shortages and are using a variety of strategies to mitigate the problem.
Besides making construction careers more appealing to women and minorities, the report said there must be efforts made to reach young people through social media and career-focused venues. For their part, contractors and construction managers said they were working on the long-term labor shortage problem by:
- Promoting internally
- Boosting performance through training
- Using internships and co/op programs
- Finding where they have gaps in core competencies
- Focusing on schools and universities for recruiting
- Retaining key talent using best practices
Perhaps most telling about the competitive nature of finding the right people in the right numbers, almost a quarter of respondents said they’d “poach” employees from other companies.
The mix in this survey’s respondents was decidedly tilted toward companies with revenues exceeding $100 million and those with more than 100 employees. Only 3.5% of respondents were from firms with revenues below $25 million, and respondents from firms with fewer than 100 employees made up less than half of those claiming 100-499 employees.
Most respondents, 93%, thought one reason for the lack of skilled workers is because there just isn’t enough of them. About half of the respondents also said another reason was because people had moved to other industries during the recession. About 40% of respondents named the industry’s reputation as another reason for the shortages, and 30% pointed to baby boomers leaving as a reason.
So where are these managers finding new talent? Nearly 80% report using online recruiting tools, while 68% offer incentives to employees who refer someone. Sixty-three percent use internships or co-ops, and just about the same amount, nearly 60%, use professional recruiters, external referrals and job postings on company websites.
Respondents also weighed-in on what educational backgrounds had proven to be most successful in new hires. Regardless of whether the new hire was management or trade/craft, respondents said they had the best luck with people having construction management education or engineering.
The top personal skills named by the respondents that were predictive of a successful hire were communications skills (named by 23%), leadership (17%), and strategic thinking (11%). Two of those, communicating effectively and strategic thinking were named as the most difficult to develop in field managers, followed by coaching and mentoring. For project managers, respondents said the most difficult to develop were communicating effectively, strategic thinking, leading others and coaching and mentoring, in that order.
You can download the full report here.