A career in construction: How to attract Gen Z into the labor market?

December 16, 2021

Labor market is struggling to find and keep workers who build careers rather than just work jobs. This is because many young people aren’t aware of the career they could have in construction. The older workforce have retired sooner than was expected. Meanwhile, high schools seem to make college the only option for students. This makes it harder for some young people to see a future in construction.

Marketable skill set

Trade schools need to raise awareness. Employees in the trades often enter at a higher salary than college graduates, with much less student debt. This is proof that you don’t have to go to college to be successful. High school students should know that they can learn and become an expert in a skillset that will be marketable anywhere in the world. According to experts it’s vital to train emerging leaders in the skills required to be a boss. The labor market needs to invest in training leaders.

From shovel to billion dollar job sites

Often, managers running billion dollar job sites were, at one point, just holding a shovel. When workers view working in construction as a career not a job, climbing the corporate ladder becomes possible. Since Gen Z largely cares more about work conditions than pay, construction’s safety practices as a whole have increased in the past few years. Gen Z is likely to choose a slightly lower paying job, but with more predictability, both in the physical location of their workspace and dangers of their work.

Understanding Gen Z

Generation Z is the youngest generation in the workforce. Born between 1997 and 2012, this generation is considered to be more sensitive to criticism. It’s vital that they know that they are respected and valued at work in order to keep them. There needs to be a change in every jobsite culture to create a more welcoming environment. Not only should the “macho ethos” around construction be removed but workers should be equipped with the tools to say when they’re struggling with mental or physical health. 

What does Gen Z need?

For Gen Z, it is about salary and benefits first, and about how they will be able to advance their careers in the labor market. This means that companies will have to give Gen Z workers stronger incentives to stay loyal. And that means you may have to pay them more if you want them to stick around. Fifty-six percent of Gen Z would rather write their own job description than be given a generic one. And 62 percent of Gen Z would rather customize their own career plan than have the organization lay one out for them.

Infographic: Gen Z expectations of the job market

Multiple career paths

One solution is to offer Gen Z workers several different opportunities to learn at once. Research from the Stillman’s found that 75 percent of Gen Z would be interested in a situation where they could have multiple roles within one place of employment.

Digital natives

Members of Gen Z are the true “digital natives”, they’re thoroughly comfortable with technology. 91 percent of Gen Z said technological sophistication would impact their interest in working at a company. Gen Z will lead technological advancement in the construction industry. And for the first time, we have the youngest generation as an authority figure on something really important.

There has never been a better time to recruit realistic and exceptionally motivated young individuals to the construction industry. This presents an opportunity for an industry like construction to get in on the ground floor and offer good careers and good salaries to these future workers early.

Kaufman Search & Consulting

Kaufman Search & Consulting works with leading Contractors and top-level talent throughout the country, building teams for tomorrow’s projects one perfect fit at a time. We use extensive know-how and our solid relationships with key decision makers at our client companies to elevate your executive career in construction.

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