It comes as no shock to the average person that a ripple effect of recent technological advances and the growth of the Internet economy has been a tectonic shift in the labor force. The number of jobs that require sitting behind a desk in a cubicle – or anywhere a computer might be – has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. This shift has transformed our educational system into one that funnels students towards a different set of opportunities. While some of those opportunities offer new and exciting prospects for our economy, the trend has accelerated at the cost of marginalizing vocational and skills-based training – especially in the construction trades.
You Can’t Get Everything on Amazon
In truth, you can’t buy everything on Amazon. Fundamental aspects of our lives have not changed. We still need homes to live in, new schools and commercial buildings, state-of-the-art hospitals, and improved roads and bridges. Right now, we especially need trained people who know how to construct and renovate these critically important assets in our built environment.
What has changed in recent years? Basically, our view of education and job prospects – which pushes the idea that every graduating high schooler should enter a four-year college program. Unfortunately, too many students leave the university to find themselves forced to work in low-wage jobs and burdened with excessive college loan debt.
Today, we have a fundamental mismatch between the needs of the marketplace and the skills of our workforce. There are simply tasks we cannot outsource or buy online. The push for “college for all” has led to a serious shortage of skilled construction workers, plumbers, electricians, masonry workers, sheet metal workers, carpenters, construction managers, and other building trades professionals.
Time for Construction College?
Increased demand in the construction field means it’s probably time for many young people to consider “construction college" – accomplished through training programs, guild associations, apprenticeships, and other job training initiatives.
The enormously increasing demand for skilled construction workers for residential and commercial building projects shows little sign of slowdown. We currently face a new frontier: in an industry with countless opportunities for great jobs, there are fewer and fewer workers trained to take advantage of them – and we aren’t just talking about workers who can swing a hammer. According to industry trade groups, for every five superintendents who retire, only one moves into the role. Project managers and estimators are also in equal demand.
During the recession, more than 1.5 million residential construction workers abandoned the industry. Fewer than half of those workers returned, making it difficult and more expensive for construction firms to find staff. That has led to a much older workforce – building trades employees today have an average age of 50 – and increased demand for skilled workers.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), one of several U.S. trade associations representing the construction industry, recently estimated that there may be as many as 500,000 currently available jobs within the construction industry.
Companies Are Eager to Hire
Companies are more eager than ever to hire motivated people and train them; those with experience have found themselves prized and well-compensated in an industry that now offers unprecedented financial and occupational stability. In short: it’s an excellent time to get in the game for those seeking job security and the promise of increasing pay.
According to construction website Curbed, “The lack of enough skilled workers and a narrow talent pipeline has added extra hurdles, time, and costs to many current projects, according to builders, hindering the current boom time in the industry.”
Not all of these jobs fall into the traditional hammer-and-nail category. Mobile design and construction software, new and improved machinery, and even drones are becoming increasingly common on job sites as the industry looks to blend in helpful technologies to increase productivity and give workers a plethora of potential ways to solve project challenges.
Many of these jobs are available with very little-to-no school at all, and those seeking opportunities need not spend thousands of dollars when they can begin earning and gain valuable experience that will assure them interesting and rewarding careers – with a solid payday to boot. Plenty of local and national agencies, including ABC, have outreach programs and other helpful information for anyone looking to start a career in the construction industry.
Rising Tide of Construction Boom Lifts All Boats
With this jump in construction projects comes a coinciding uptick in the need for property management, oversight, and other opportunities just outside the construction scope. Job sites need superintendents, estimators, and surveyors. Existing properties require handy individuals to fix issues and oversee building systems. Specialized trades – carpentry, plumbing, electrical – are increasingly valued as vital components of the construction industry. These vocations can be attained outside of the college sphere; with an apprenticeship and skill-based training one can fairly easily set themselves up to succeed in positions with near-universal demand. In this case, the rising tide of the construction boom truly lifts all boats.
In short, there are plenty of great reasons to pursue a construction career. From a purely financial standpoint, it costs less to gain more earning potential. For those seeking stability, the scores of open jobs and continued growth make for unparalleled career longevity. Additionally, the diversity of available opportunities gives options for those who seek a range of tasks and challenges in their employment. To top it all off, the industry offers a tangible and concrete sense of accomplishment.
The workaday life of the average 9-to-5 office drone has been a punchline since before the dawn of the internet. For many young people, the remedy may be to build something. To solve a problem. To get one’s hands dirty. To be of use to local communities. Not only are construction and vocational jobs a smart decision – they’re also fulfilling in a way that few occupations can be in our increasingly computer and smartphone-addled society.
The famous movie “Field of Dreams” posited that “If you build it, they will come.” Today, the construction industry is reaching out to young people with a powerful message: “If you come, we will build it.”
We have many opportunities available now at Dow Smith Company, including openings for a superintendent and general trade technicians. These positions offer a high ceiling for growth, great pay and benefits, and, most importantly, the opportunity to be a part of a great company culture. Want to join our team? Apply now >>>