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The construction industry experienced both change and significant challenges throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with large scale projects paused, issues with supply and demand for materials and a huge impact on those working within the sector, with Brexit also having a huge impact on materials and movement within the sector.
A growing concern is that with the increasing advancements in construction equipment, organizations may require more educated or specially trained workers to manage and interpret data produced by new technology.
A 2021 engineering and construction industry outlook report by Deloitte highlighted the ongoing skills gap in the era of digital transformation, where there is a mismatch between skills needed and the availability of workers with such skills. The report suggests there will be some practices which will be prevalent in the coming year.
There are many challenges facing the industry such as high cost of construction equipment, shrinking backlog of work and sustainability. A key challenge we are hearing a lot about is the lack of skilled workers.
There is a distinct shortage of skilled professionals to work with the technologically advanced machines that are being introduced at such a fast rate. One of the primary causes of this is an ageing workforce coupled with a decreasing number of young people entering the industry, as interest in the skills trade has diminished. Industry experts have acknowledged a pressing need to reignite interest and encourage young people to consider such trades once again. This is further exacerbated by the erosion of the wage advantage that construction workers used to enjoy. A report by the International Labour Organization in the U.S. highlights,
There is still resistance from young people when it comes to pursuing a career in construction - for some it’s due to the belief that the industry is undesirable or unstable, and for others it’s down to parental or societal expectations to pursue a college or university education instead. Industry experts believe there is an urgent need to alter the negative perception that surrounds the industry.
As delayed or cancelled projects ramp up again and organizations look to rehire having previously laid off part of their workforce, the competition for skilled workers is set to increase again. In addition, the speed in which construction equipment is advancing means current and new workers are unable to upskill fast enough. Organizations will continue to struggle to attract the number and quality of workers they need.
Quality and high calibre talent is expensive, and competition is fierce in a candidate driven market. Traditional recruitment activities such as advertising on jobs boards and trawling through a candidate database can still be effective, but it’s no longer enough. Organizations and recruiters need to focus on a variety of approaches to hiring and attracting talent.
Source candidates from a wider pool
To attract skilled and experienced workers, it will be critical for employers to widen the talent pool they are currently focusing on. With the adjustment to remote working and advances in technology, it’s increasingly possible for organizations to recruit people from further afield. Covid has taught us that remote working is possible, especially with the advancements in technology that make remote site inspections and team collaboration effective.
Promoting relocation programmes
Adam Raybould, Principal Consultant and Executive Headhunter;
"Another important consideration for organisations is to evaluate their relocation programmes for recruitment. The clients I support who have an extensive relocation plan experience the greatest success in accessing a wider of pool of talent in comparison to their competitors. By showcasing and promoting their relocation packages, these organisations can expand their reach and tap into a larger pool of candidates across all locations. There is substantial cost involved in relocation along with, planning, preparation, and research, which can often put candidates off an opportunity which involves relocation. For those businesses who not only support with the financial aspect but help you to plan and physically relocate senior level candidates and their families, this puts them in a prime position as an employer and enhances their hiring strategy."
Be more inclusive
Hiring managers may have to adjust their preferences regarding the type of people they hire, for example, a common industry mindset is that only candidates with industry experience or construction management degrees should be hired. The reality is, both types of candidates are rare and in demand and can add value to an organization. Employers will have to consider hiring candidates who, although lacking in theoretical or practical experience, instead have character over skills. If they possess the right aptitude, motivation and drive and are willing to be trained in a construction role, they may prove to be a highly valuable workforce asset. Investing in and developing a home-grown workforce will also improve retention rates and future hiring success.
Appeal to more women
Increasing the number of women into a predominantly male-orientated industry can bring fresh perspectives and an array of skills that are currently lacking within construction teams. Women make up only 10.3% of the construction industry workforce, and the number of women on the front lines of a job site is even smaller - 1 woman to every 100 men in the field. It could be time to make the industry more attractive to females. At CSG, we are focused on supporting women step into senior level roles within the construction equipment industry.
Gamification and gaming
Societal changes have resulted in the younger generations being unfamiliar with construction equipment and machinery - where children once grew up playing with toy tractors, forklifts and diggers, youngsters now are playing video games. Some industry experts are exploring new and innovative ways to connect with younger audiences, leveraging their love of gaming and technology, and combating the negative perceptions they may have about working in such industries. How? Gamification. Some organizations are purchasing realistic, digital simulators in a bid to connect video-game-obsessed youngsters to the world of forklifts and excavators, giving them the opportunity to experience construction equipment in real-life or on-the-job scenarios. Whether this will be a successful way of enticing younger workers into the industry remains to be seen.
Enable an alternative route to gaining relevant experience
There is a specific shortage of talent within Engineering, with businesses experiencing challenges when sourcing and attracting both Mechanical and Technical Engineers. A huge factor that impacts recruitment in this area is the focus on recruiting Engineers with a strong academic background and specific engineering qualifications. Organisations are opening their talent pool by considering candidates without Engineering degrees, but with the technical skills and experience to add value in a role. Recruiting talent in this area allows businesses access to a wider range of candidates who will enter on a lower starting salary than that of a candidate with a Degree or MBA. Some organisations recruit at this level with the intent to fund or subsidize studies that will help Engineers grow in their role and move up the ranks within an organisation, investing in employee growth and development.
Focus on retention and planning ahead
Organizations are shifting their focus from recruitment to retention, as they recognize the importance of retaining key members of staff. Engaged employees can be an organization's best brand ambassadors, providing untold value when it comes to recruiting new talent. Financial reward has always been a huge driving factor in both attracting and retaining talent, but employees are seeking so much more. It’s important to review existing processes, work environment, benefits, flexibility, and overall appeal.
Building a strategic recruitment plan is important in today’s market, hiring managers are being encouraged to recruit year-round and build a pipeline of candidates. Planning allows organisations access to the best talent on the market, rather than hiring only during busy periods when they may be forced to settle for subpar candidates.
Invest in the workplace
If an organization is viewed as an attractive place to work, managers not only retain employees but also find it easier to attract future candidates. From providing comfortable and modern facilities and the best tools for the job, to team incentives, flexi working and social occasions, making an organization the best it can be in terms of culture and physical space will go a long way in retaining and attracting quality workers.
We’re watching closely as increased industry activity intensifies demand for skilled employees. We’re witnessing how candidates are driving the market, and we’re keeping a close eye on what they’re looking for when it comes to accepting new roles. Due to the ramifications of Covid and the fallout from Brexit that has further exacerbated an industry-wide skills shortage, we understand how finding suitable candidates is a huge challenge for construction equipment businesses.
Adam Raybould, Principal Consultant and Executive Headhunter;
“We’ve worked a lot in the renewable space recently where we have identified a number of companies who are struggling to hire into renewable and electrification engineering. This has been an area we have been able to partner with many firms to deliver key talent, specifically technical hubs in North America. The team and I at CSG have delivered effective hiring solutions for clients within the aerial workspace and we are hiring a high number of roles within lifting. We have also experienced growth across sales and dealerships within construction equipment OEMs. At CSG, we aim to deliver a bespoke approach to each client to suit their hiring strategy and growth plans. In a market where there are high numbers of candidates seeking new opportunities, we can identify the most relevant, skilled individuals to add value to our clients organization.”
Finding quality talent is tough, but it’s not impossible when you have an experienced recruitment partner with a targeted strategy. By utilizing additional resources and approaches, alongside the support and expertise of a Recruiter who can enhance your hiring process, you will not only attract high calibre talent, but it will also allow you to retain your existing employees.