Construction Must Transform its Future by Attracting Younger Generations

July 23, 2019

Smart businesses in every sector are beginning to recognize “…machines will soon rival our own intelligence…99% percent of the time this will be a good thing, making roadways safer and automating tasks that used to require hundreds of hours of dangerous human labor… This is one projection put forward by  Dave Roos, author of “10 Futuristic Construction Technologies.”

By contrast, the labor-intensive construction sector faces a clear and present danger with the need to answer (very soon) the question:  As older, skilled workers retire, where are the younger replacement workers to sustain skills needed?

How can our electrical contractors define their new reality? Jeffrey Joerres, Chair and CEO, Manpower Group, warns: “The world is on the cusp of entering a new reality in which human potential itself will become the major agent of economic growth.” Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec, Canada, takes it one step farther: “We are entering the era of unparalleled talent scarcity that will put a brake on economic growth around the world…”

In a recent survey of more than 2,000 companies, business owners chose “more part-time, temporary or contract workers” as the number one change they anticipate over the next five years. Distant runners-up included telecommuting, offshore and outsourced workers.  For hands-on, physically-present occupations such as electrical construction, as older skilled workers retire, there are not enough younger workers in the pipeline to sustain the skills base needed for growing business opportunities.

Where to turn?

The Wall Street Journal reports “56% of 50,000 15-18 year-olds would consider joining the workforce instead of attending college.”  Younger workers represent an asset to firms. They are consumers, influencers, innovators, and very tech-savvy.

To get the attention of this younger workforce, smart companies will

  • Make maximum use of the Internet and social media to reach potential workers
  • Rebrand Vocational Education as Skills Education
  • Promote the positive image and financial rewards of Skills Education
  • Offer mentoring and skills certification recognition to help advance new careers
  • Provide access to work experiences through internships and project work
  • Get more closely aligned with community schools to help match curricula to business needs

The good news?

Young workers want to succeed and to have a profession. They can accomplish this as they acquire new skills and demonstrate their capability to apply those skills to practical business tasks. By helping young workers develop a portfolio of progressively challenging work experiences, electrical contractors can provide a highly effective way of building both skills and employability.