How a general contractor can manage a shortage of skilled workers.
Every time the economy experiences a dip or a downturn, industries that rely on skilled workers suffer a loss as fewer people pursue training in those fields. The field of commercial construction is no different.
Building commercial spaces requires numerous skilled workers in many different fields, from electrical workers to plumbers to carpenters to bricklayers to cabinet makers to painters. General contractors are increasingly struggling to find workers who are trained in these areas and who can provide the kind of quality workmanship that business owners and investors want for their commercial spaces.
However, there are ways that general contractors manage the shortage of skilled workers and laborers when tackling commercial construction projects. Some of these approaches are discussed below.
- Investing in training skilled workers. Some contractors are beginning apprenticeship programs to train workers directly on the job, which not only helps give the workers the skills they need but also helps contractors retain good workers.
- Looking for good workers, not just low wage hires. Instead of hiring inexpensive labor to keep costs down, contractors are realizing that it is better to hire a truly skilled worker at a higher wage than to sacrifice quality workmanship. Most business owners and investors are also willing to budget a bit more for labor costs when they know that the project will be well done by experienced workers.
- Keeping workers engaged and informed. Maintaining a mentor-mentee relationship with workers is one way that contractors attract and keep skilled workers, by encouraging them and guiding them through the process. It also helps reduce turnover and keeps the working environment safer and more positive. It can also reduce the number of work-related claims that general contractors have to face from their workers.
- Working to change the negative perception of construction. Some people view working construction as a dirty or a humble job. Business owners and general contractors alike can work to change this perception by encouraging workers, thanking them for jobs well done, and recommending contractors and workers to other business owners and investors seeking to build commercial spaces.
- Accommodating the learning curve. If contractors are training new skilled workers, a project can sometimes take a bit longer while the workers learn the trade. Business owners and contractors can adjust the schedule of the project to allow these workers to train effectively.
- Searching in similar industries. Many skills are translatable between industries, so there may be skilled workers looking for a career change in other fields, such as manufacturing. Targeting workers who already have some of the required skills can make training easier.
- Encouraging teamwork. People often learn best from their peers, and so having a team of workers who can assist and train each other is another effective way to create a workforce that is both skilled and dedicated.
Although it will take changes on the parts of business owners, investors, and contractors alike, the shortage of skilled workers is manageable if you learn to target the right people and train them the right way.