How can you win the flight for talent in construction?

Talent Construction Ellis Fox Blog

We know that most Main Contractors are struggling to find and retain the talent they need. With more jobs available than a dwindling workforce can provide, it’s not just about attracting more people into the industry, it’s about finding the right people.

Expertise, experience, understanding the nuances of how the construction industry operates, these can’t be gained in a quick certification course. They’re learnt on the job, in the industry, and it takes time.

Half a decade ago there were warnings that acquiring top talent would become a major challenge. With senior expertise retiring and fewer people entering the industry, there was a growing need to nurture new skills. Industry bodies set about trying to encourage this through apprenticeships, but still it doesn’t seem to have made a dent in the current demand.

Since the pandemic, construction and infrastructure were considered a key part of economic recovery. For a while the industry seemed to be rallying with increased project starts and productivity, but that was short lived. Project delays, budget constraints and continuing insolvencies indicate that there’s still a rocky road ahead. How can construction hope to attract top talent with a less than rosy outlook?

People want to be in industries that are growing, where there’s a future forward focus in terms of technology, diversity and flexible working. Most importantly, they want to feel valued, and that there’s opportunity for learning and progression where they work. If the industry is hoping to close the skills gap, these are some of the fundamentals to focus on.

Investing in talent means paying the value of expertise, creating a culture where well-being is prioritised and having clear expectations on deliverables. If productivity is the focus, employees need to be empowered and set up for success. This means having technologies, resources and partnerships that they can leverage, as well as opportunities to innovate.

It’s a big ask, given the pressure that most construction firms are under, but many small actions can have ripple effect that could start to turn the tide. Attracting more expertise to the industry starts with existing employees. After all they’re the mouthpiece of the industry. Demonstrate that they’re valued, provide opportunities for progression, and to work with new technologies. Take the time to understand what’s important to them, and they can be your biggest allies in attracting top talent.