Construction Companies Starting to Offer New Workers Training, Apprenticeships

Offering free training and construction apprentice programs as an incentive for new workers could help solve the current labor shortage.

construction professional teaching younger workerShutterstock/ Monkey Business Issues

A new study from the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) reports that some contractors are now offering new workers training and construction apprentice programs to combat the labor shortage that’s affecting the industry.

According to the study, 30 percent of the companies surveyed planned to provide free training to attract and keep skilled jobsite workers. More than half of the companies plan on general jobsite training, while 20 percent have pledged to include trade-specific training, and 15 percent look to invest in construction apprentice programs.

The Labor Shortage in a Nutshell

A skills gap has plagued the industry ever since the financial crisis and Great Recession of the late 2000s, when the Department of Labor estimates the industry lost 2.3 million jobs.

The growth forecasted by an Urban Land Institute report, showing that from 2014 to 2024 firms could see the number of young people in the construction workplace increasing by 3.2 million, is overshadowed by their determination that during the same time period, 9.4 million are also expected to retire. That’s a potential 6.2 million-worker deficit, as well as a huge loss in skilled construction experience.

“The difficulty in finding skilled labor is the No. 1 problem faced by middle-market firms,” Joe Brusuelas, U.S. Chief Economist of global accounting firm RSM, told BISNOW.

Solutions: Skills and Retention

Free cross-training opportunities and pre-apprenticeship programs are smart ways to connect workers with essential experience that benefits your company.

R.T. Moore Mechanical Contractors in Indianapolis, Indiana, for example, offers the LAUNCH Training Program, essentially paid on-the-job plumbing or HVAC training that teaches skills including how to accurately manage materials needed for projects and maintaining a safe and clean jobsite. Graduates log 7,600 hours toward becoming competent and capable plumbers.

Such programs make construction apprentices more valuable on the jobsite while sending the message that you value them and their contributions. What’s more, employees who feel valued are more inclined to stick with their employer.

It’s a proven tactic recognized by state and federal governments, too. President Trump recently unveiled a plan to expand apprenticeship programs across the country to counteract the current shortage of skilled jobsite workers in the U.S.

Building Interest

On top of committing to internal training opportunities, contractors can work with educational establishments to introduce trades early on in high school, effectively growing the overall talent pool they will eventually hire from.

In Marysville, Washington, construction industry leaders worked with local school district and state governments and students to create the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Center, located right on the high school campus. Students will graduate with a college credential and a pre-apprenticeship certificate recognized by local labor unions, on top of their high school diploma.

RAP exemplifies how contractors and government entities can work together to overcome the challenge of attracting and retaining top talent, building the strength of the construction industry as a whole.

Read more about how a construction camp for girls empowered the next generation of workers!

About the author:

Shawnna Stiver is a veteran lifestyle, marketing and news content writer, currently contributing to ecommerce companies in the parenting and babies space. She has written traditional, digital and social content for the following industries: beauty, consumer goods, entrepreneurship, financial services, health/wellness, home improvement/DIY, lifestyle, non-profit, parenting and self-improvement. She runs a website that connects people with brands that make a difference in the world: www.kindco.org.