A Career in the Trades: Dealing with the Labor Gap

It’s a disturbing trend – finding the best talent for your project has started to become more challenging. Bestbath and SGC Horizon recently sat down to discuss this matter and what can be done to fix it.

During the recession, many skilled trade workers found themselves either unemployed or under-employed, and were forced to seek out other lines of work. Now, as the building and manufacturing industries are growing again, that labor force is depleted. In fact, last year, the Associated General Contractors of America released a survey revealing that nearly 80% of construction businesses are experiencing a skilled labor shortage.

Further hurting the situation, younger generations – who would traditionally fill the gaps left by a shrinking workforce – are more hesitant to become laborers. Not only did they observe – and experience – what happened to family and friends during the recession, but they’re also being encouraged by family to pursue white collar jobs.

So what can be done?
Combating the labor shortage will require involvement from everyone in the industry – from trade associations to small business owners. Here are a few ideas we’ve observed as we try and keep our own workforce operating at maximum levels.

  • Retention. Retaining employees has become even more critical as the labor shortage continues. When workers stay with their company, the business retains institutional knowledge that can be used to train the new workforce. Provide your employees opportunity for advancement – showing you value their talents and contributions to your company.
  • Promote Trades as an Alternative. Being part of a skilled labor force can be a very exciting alternative to those not sure they want to sit behind a desk.
  • Start Early. Connect with high schools, community colleges, and vocational centers to develop grassroots campaigns. An Idaho high school has training in place where students are learning the construction industry – graduating high school with the skill set to immediately enter a well-paid workforce. Even major businesses like Microsoft are reaching out to schools to offer apprenticeships to students.
  • Innovate. Focusing on the labor workforce isn’t the only solution. Businesses need to continually innovate to make the installation processes more simple and training programs easier to complete.

For more on this topic and the repercussions of the skilled labor gap, take a few minutes and watch our “Coffee Talk” series with Bestbath’s Greg Wells and SGC Horizon’s Adam Grubb.