Groundbreak 2023 in Chicago is officially upon us and we’re covering this year’s top sessions so we can bring the event home to you. From cultural transformation to digital transformation, conference speakers are diving into key industry topics and sharing knowledge with their peers and industry experts on how to better their business, build more efficiently and help create a more diverse and skilled workforce.
Follow along throughout the event and check out some highlights as we share updates Live from Groundbreak — the construction technology event of the year.
Developing the Construction Workforce of Tomorrow
Speakers highlighted the importance of prioritizing ways to attract the next generation of talent.
With the future of the industry in the hands of Gen Zs and millennials, speakers from JCM Associates say its important for companies to understand the value younger generations bring, but also take ownership in teaching them the tools of the trade.
“The younger generation is looking for mentorship and they are looking for growth in a certain company. What has been helping a lot with other companies is they have been pairing these individuals with mentors, and it’s actually two-way communication,” said Cristian Brosnan, Project Manager at JCM Associates. “You’re helping the older generation with the technology that the younger generation is bringing in, but then you also have the older generation that actually knows the trade, or is an expert in whatever it is that the company does. So each of them are learning from one another.”
When it comes to attracting younger talent, it’s important to offer a strong work culture, training and social involvement, which are all highly valued by this younger generation. Several strategies were discussed to make the industry more appealing:
- Social Media Engagement: Leverage social media platforms to reach younger demographics effectively and showcase the dynamic aspects of a career in construction.
- Onboarding and Training: Develop comprehensive training and onboarding processes that not only equip new hires with the required skills but also make them feel valued and included. Promote from within.
- Apprenticeships: Offer structured apprenticeship programs that provide both theoretical and hands-on practical knowledge.
- Company Culture: Foster a workplace culture that aligns with the values and aspirations of younger generations to encourage long-term retention.
Building a Brighter Future: High School and Young Adult Workforce Development Programs in the Construction Industry
The benefits and challenges of engaging high school students and young adults through training programs and student outreach was the focal point of this session. Panelists delved into the importance of transferring knowledge and skills to younger generations as the existing workforce ages.
“When our construction crews that are working on our stores or distribution centers are able to see us build projects by the people who work and live in the communities that we are serving, there is connection,” said Amber Koehler, Vice President of Target Properties Construction. “When there’s connection, there’s energy, when there’s energy, there’s engagement — the outcomes are there.”
Panelists discussed several advantages of providing workforce development opportunities for high school students, including:
- Pipeline of Skilled Workers: Hands-on training and apprenticeships create a ready pool of skilled workers who can hit the ground running.
- Reducing Youth Unemployment: Engaging young adults in vocational training can substantially reduce youth unemployment rates.
- Tackling Labor Shortage: Actively recruiting and training younger individuals can alleviate the industry’s labor shortage issue.
- Community Impact: Beyond its benefits for the industry, workforce development has broader social and economic advantages for communities at large.
Additionally, the panelists emphasized the need for companies to be proactive in contributing to these workforce development initiatives. Aaron Frumin, Executive Director of unCommon Construction, says companies should commit to three of five asks when partnering with their non-profit organization to help the students they work with:
Through concerted, industry-wide efforts the challenges of aging workforces and labor shortages be effectively tackled. The future of the construction industry rests on how well it can attract, train and retain younger generations.