The construction industry fared better than many others during the COVID-19 crisis, largely due to consistent demand and the designation of many trades workers as essential employees. But as we emerge from the pandemic, the industry is once again faced with a familiar challenge: attracting a skilled workforce.
Part of construction’s challenge in attracting younger workers is the perception that the work is too hard, too stressful and too physical. That it’s a job that gets bogged down with constant administrative tasks that divert attention from what they’re there to do – build.
“If you talk to any builder, anyone who works in construction, what they’re really passionate about is actually getting out in the field and getting the work done,” says Kris Lengieza, VP of Global Partnerships and Alliances for Procore.
“Procore has really positioned itself to focus on improving the lives of everyone in construction, inclusive of the workers’ experience on a construction site; how we can make things a bit more efficient for them and make the job a bit better for them so they can have a higher quality of life,” adds Lengieza.
Using technology to bridge the gap
According to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, the construction industry will need to hire 430,000 more workers in 2021 than in 2020 if they’re going to bridge their labor gap. This has resulted from many more retiring workers leaving construction and not enough new ones stepping up to replace them.
Attracting a younger workforce to the construction profession has to start early. The industry’s recruitment efforts have stepped up their game at the high school and college levels, but for a generation raised on technology, careers that involve archaic systems and processes just aren’t appealing.
“They’ve created a generation of folks that are demanding more, which is fantastic, because you shouldn’t be doing collaboration via email, you should be making the technology work for you,” says Nichole Carter, a Procore Certified Consultant and owner of Improving Construction with Strategically Applied Technology (ICWSAT).
“There is a difference between a company who has deployed something like Procore and those who have not,” explains Carter.
“If you have exposure to something like Procore early in your career you’re going to continue to demand that be the bare minimum because it’s really hard to disengage from having that system in place.”
Giving workers tools they need to do great work
Providing workers with the tools and resources they need to be successful at their jobs is critical, both for seasoned veterans and fresh-out-of-school newbies. The Procore platform is a modern, highly customizable piece of technology that’s continually evolving to do more. At the same time, the company has invested in industry-specific continuing education content through Procore.org, which is available for free.
“You can leverage those things to grow your employees. It’s putting in place a tool that makes it easier for them to do their jobs, but also makes it easier for them to learn and grow. That sort of content is going to be relevant to their job, and the next job they want to have,” Lengieza says.
Career growth and the ability to make a noticeable impact at their company are often cited as important considerations when a worker is deciding on a profession, no matter their age. Procore is one of the technologies that makes it easier for workers to achieve those goals.
“There’s a huge opportunity for workers to scale their impact inside of their organizations. I’ve seen people 10 or 20 years into their careers really catapult into leadership positions, using technology as a springboard. They’ve realized their impact can be much larger than the one project they’re running,” says Lengieza.
Changing expectations for a changing industry
When technology exists to make workers’ jobs and lives easier, it stands to reason employees will want to see their companies putting it to use.
“I think we all know that if people aren’t actually embracing technology at this point, they are going to lose the competitive edge it brings to their companies,” Carter notes.
“There’s an appeal for the younger generation to have all of that fabulous, fun technology like drones and 360-degree cameras, but if you’re actually targeting that market, nobody says ‘expense reporting should be sexy,’ it should be easy,” Carter says.
Young workers today put more of a premium on job satisfaction than previous generations. Utilizing project management tools like Procore lets them spend more time doing their core jobs, and less time fretting over paperwork.
“A carpenter wants to frame, a welder wants to weld; they don’t want to be searching for what they’re supposed to do. Technology puts all of that at your fingertips so you can focus on doing what you love about the job, and not all of the things you don’t necessarily like about it, like timesheets, writing RFIs, or searching for information,” says Lengieza.
Construction has dramatically changed over the last decade and communicating that message is an important step to attracting tomorrow’s workers to the profession.
Procore helps workers realize this isn’t their grandfather’s industry. There’s a very new way of “building and getting the work done” happening. Tools like Procore can make them really efficient and really good at their job. If they love technology, and love training in a skill that allows them to work with their hands, you can blend those two things together.