Facing the Challenge
As construction work in Northern Michigan continues to expand, what is the biggest challenge facing the construction industry and our Builders Exchange Contractor Members?
We are all well aware there is a labor shortage. The challenge now lies with finding a long-term solution, an investment in the future of our skilled labor force. What are we doing as an industry to nurture this undertaking? It will be no small task. However, if every company contributes a small piece to this puzzle, we can plant the seed for tomorrow and grow a new generation of skilled craftsmen and women.
Where did that BOOM BOOM POW go? – A large percentage of the current workforce (Baby-Boomers) is quickly approaching retirement age. The younger generation seems uninterested or are simply being pointed in the direction of a 4-year degree with the promise of big money at the end, after paying off student loans and working until midnight at the local pizza joint. How many millennials know that you can have a successful and satisfying career as a trades-person? Do they get that you can get paid AND receive on-the-job training at the same time? Probably not, unless they have grown up in a household where mom, dad or a family member are in the trades.
Digging In the Dirt – Remember when you were a kid? Out in the yard, excavating the flowerbed with your Tonka trucks. Barbie or Ken may have “operated” the heavy equipment. Concrete foundations were poured from beach buckets and your imagination had you building anything that could be assembled out of twigs, cans or your dad’s collection of hardware in the garage. You had dirt under your fingernails and probably everywhere else. You were having FUN! Maybe the solution is as simple as making an impression on a young person by providing the opportunity to dig in the dirt, smell freshly cut lumber and watch a project come together that took sweat equity, not a degree.
It is never too early to plant that seed of curiosity. Seek out programs offered in your community and get involved and get your company involved. Perhaps create your own event that involves hands-on experiences for these youngsters.