I made a career change when I joined the construction industry, so I know firsthand the kinds of growth opportunities that exist in this industry. But right now, the construction industry is facing a labor shortage. I wrote about the shortage of skilled labor here, and why I believe it’s the single greatest challenge facing our industry. So, I’d like to follow up by making a case for why more people should take a serious look at a career in construction. Allow me to outline three main reasons why a career in construction is a great choice, with incredible advancement opportunities.
Open to Anyone
A career in construction is something anyone can pursue, no matter their education or experience. That’s especially true if we look specifically at field roles, which are the most needed positions across the country right now. That’s because the most important traits and skills that make field leadership and skilled workers successful can’t be taught in a classroom. You know what I care about more than years of experience on a resume? Dependability. Will a potential new hire show up when expected and not keep the rest of the project team waiting. Are they trustworthy? Will they do what they say they will? Are they excited to learn? I still learn new things on each project, and it’s one of the things I love best about this job.
Of course, there are technical skills involved with construction, but those can be taught to anyone willing and capable of working their way up. Simply put, we can and will teach you how to put the buildings together. If you can lead people and communicate well, you can go far in this industry.
Working Up, Every Day
I mean this in two ways. First, quite literally, a construction worker is consistently working to build something out of the ground. There’s a sense of accomplishment and pride in being able to see progress you helped put in place. You could install 10 windows in a day and know the next day you will advance the building even further. In a month you’ll be able to see the building expand and rise thanks to your efforts. There’s no monotony of doing the same task over and over with no end in sight. The finish line is set and you’re constantly working towards it.
In addition, the construction industry rewards experience and those who rise to the challenge. There are clear career trajectories open to those who want to work for them. Say you want to learn masonry and you begin as a mason helper — there are clear avenues to work towards becoming a mason, then foreman, then superintendent. In our company, we have a lot of success stories of people who started off as a laborer or carpenter and are now leading multi-million-dollar projects.
Our industry needs to recruit more than half a million additional workers to our industry to keep up with the pace of development. Reports show that last year, the construction industry had nearly 400,000 job openings a month. While unemployment in our industry was just 4.6%, the second lowest when compared to other industries. In our company alone, we have positions available nationwide. My point is, the opportunities are there. And it’s a candidate’s market — meaning you can essentially choose where you want to work and who you want to work with.
In the same vein, the industry itself is in high demand. The pandemic brought many industries to a screeching halt, but not the construction industry. We may have slowed down, but we never stopped working. Construction jobs proved to be essential and there was always a need for new developments or improvement to existing facilities. If you commit to learning a skilled trade or working your way up to a field leadership position, you are making yourself essential and the opportunities will open up before you.
I clearly believe there are opportunities in construction because I have benefitted from those opportunities myself. I’m now overseeing multiple multi-million-dollar projects and entire project teams. But as the consistently growing shortage of skilled laborers proves, we’re struggling to appeal to new talent. Think about it this way. You’re coming out of high school. It’s summer and you’re looking for a career. The construction industry is hiring! Every trade in every market sector is hiring. So, why should you consider construction as a career? I think I’ve made a case for the “why.” Our challenge as an industry is to get out and sell new people on that why. We need to be actively recruiting at high schools and non-construction trade schools. We need to recruit veterans and people in jobs who have the right mentality and leadership potential. It’s past time to break down any walls that keep the construction industry seen as exclusive or unattainable and let people know that it is available to anyone who wants to work their way up into new opportunities.