The construction industry and other skilled trades are at a crossroads. The industry’s backbone — the most experienced employees — is reaching retirement, leading to a significant talent gap. With a daunting 500,000 job vacancies in skilled trades and predictions of this ballooning to over 2 million in the next decade, the landscape looks challenging.

The roots of this issue lie in the societal perception of these professions. Younger generations often view skilled trade careers as less prestigious than white-collar jobs, and women, who make up more than half of the potential workforce, often consider these roles male-dominated. But that’s not all. Even when you attract top-notch talent, retaining them is an uphill battle. Penn Foster’s 2018 report highlights a worrying 43% turnover rate, with employees staying at a company for less than five years on average. This constant churn not only incurs costs associated with recruitment, hiring, and retraining but also leads to delays in project completion due to understaffing.


Your Recruitment Strategy

Debunking the Myths and Selling the Reality
It’s time to reframe the narrative around skilled trades to overcome these challenges. It’s about emphasizing the benefits of these professions over the burden of student debt and years of study. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, only 41% of adults aged 18–29 considered a college degree significant, indicating a shift in perception.
Leverage this shift. Showcase the potential of immediate income and career advancement in skilled trades. With entry-level wages often surpassing $20 an hour and median salaries after 4–5 years of experience exceeding the U.S. household median income of $61,937, the financial viability of these careers is an attractive proposition.
Investing in Apprenticeships and Internships
Developing a robust apprenticeship or internship program is a proactive approach to ensure a constant supply of skilled talent. Collaborating with local schools or organizations to offer students and fresh graduates real-world industry experience could create a pool of ideal candidates for your roles.

Retaining Talent: More Than Just Compensation

1. Be Competitive
While attracting new talent is crucial, you shouldn’t neglect the battle for experienced talent. Ensuring your compensation packages are at par with or better than your competitors is vital. But remember, it’s not just about the paycheck. Your company culture and opportunities for growth and Development can be a significant differentiator.
2. Understanding Employee Needs
Frequent check-ins with your team can provide valuable insights into their needs and expectations. One of our coaches coined the phrase, “Management through Walking Around”. 
Exit interviews can further offer a deeper understanding of why employees leave and what can be done to prevent this.
3. Leveraging Job Fairs
Job fairs are excellent platforms to reach potential employees. However, consider expanding your job fairs into multi-day events, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate the schedules of currently employed tradespeople.

Creating a Culture of Safety and Growth

1. Prioritizing Safety
A strong safety culture correlates with lower employee turnover. Workers appreciate an environment where their Safety is a priority. Invest in safety training and enforce safety standards across your organization to create a safe and inviting workplace.
2. Encouraging Development
Promote continuous learning and growth within your organization. Provide opportunities for your employees to expand their skill sets, take on new projects, or learn about innovative technologies and processes.
3. Building Alignment
Having a clear mission and aligning individual roles with this mission can significantly increase employee engagement. When employees understand the ‘why’ behind their work, they are likely to be more motivated and committed to their roles. Alignment not only helps in employee retention but also instills a sense of shared purpose, contributing to a more cohesive and productive work environment.

The Bigger Picture: Cultivating a Healthy Organizational Culture

Crafting a winning strategy for talent acquisition and retention goes beyond offering competitive salaries and job perks. It’s about creating a work culture that resonates with your employees — one that values their Safety, promotes their professional growth, and aligns with their personal aspirations.
1. Safety Culture
Workplace safety is non-negotiable, especially in skilled trades where the risk of personal injury and property damage is high. A safety-first culture can be a significant driver of employee satisfaction and retention. Studies have shown that employees’ perception of an organization’s commitment to Safety directly impacts their intention to stay. So, prioritize Safety from the top down and create an environment where employees feel valued and protected.
2. Professional Development
Once again, today’s workforce seeks more than just a paycheck. They crave continuous learning and career advancement opportunities. Offering experiences that promote professional growth — such as industry conferences, innovative projects, or leadership roles — can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool.
3. Alignment with Organizational Mission
Creating alignment within your organization is your secret weapon against high turnover rates. An aligned organization is one where employees understand and connect with the mission and purpose of the company. This sense of purpose — the ‘why’ behind their work — can significantly improve employee engagement and loyalty.
In a competitive landscape, where 70% of employees feel disengaged with their roles, and more than half would leave for a raise of less than 20%, alignment can be a game-changer.

People-First Approach

The talent war is indeed about people — about building a team that resonates with your mission and is engaged in their work. It’s about going beyond the paycheck and offering a culture of growth and Development.  You are a family company, and if you treat your employees like family (and do it from the heart), the dedication and drive you will receive from your team will far surpass what you put into it.
As you navigate the challenging landscape of talent acquisition and retention, we’re here to help. Whether you need assistance in identifying your ‘why’ or in transforming your organization around it, a BPA is a click away.