When it comes to millennials in construction, there is a definite manpower gap in the industry. They don’t seem to be interested! In a red-hot economy, this is causing problems. Over in the homebuilding sector, the Wall Street Journal says “their indifference is exacerbating a labor shortage that has meant fewer homes being built and rising prices, possibly for years to come.” Housing isn’t alone; infrastructure is feeling the same pinch. What’s the answer? Let’s discuss!
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
On Fox Business News they asked the question we have all probably thought at one time or another: “Are these kids afraid to get their hands dirty, or what?”
Michael Bellaman, CEO of trade group Associated Builders and Contractors, said no. It’s a matter of education; today’s young people simply aren’t hearing about these opportunities when they are making career decisions.
He said that the lack of millennials in construction starts in high school. During the great recession, many schools cut vocational education courses and, ten years later, they are only now beginning to reinstate them.
What’s more, kids visit the guidance counselor and COLLEGE is the only word they hear. Career options like Electrician, Mason, Carpenter, or Crane Operator are never mentioned. This despite the huge number of openings and the handsome salary potential for millennials in construction.
POSITIVE CHANGE COMING?
United knows it won’t be easy, but if lack of exposure is the problem, then exposure is the answer! Recent developments look promising. First of all, this entire discussion came about as the President signed a bill reauthorizing the Perkins Act. More precisely, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. It’s an old law that gets overhauled from time to time. This time around, changes mean that:
- States will have more power to tailor the program to fit their needs on the ground, with less Federal red tape.
- Schools will have more freedom to invite employers into the course design process, so students graduate with in-demand skills.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Speaking of employers, what can companies like UIG do about the lack of millennials in construction? Many things we are already doing! These include events we have told you about in previous posts, such as:
- Sponsoring Teen CEO Day at Winthrop University: UIG made sure that, as 4500 upstate 8th-graders got their first taste of career planning, they heard “CONSTRUCTION” loud and clear!
- Student Job Site Field Day: UIG invited high school students from Chester County to spend a day at the Highway 9 bridge construction site on the Catawba River. They witnessed the placement of South Carolina’s longest prestressed concrete girders, and they heard from UIG reps who described a wide range of potential construction career opportunities.
MILLENNIALS IN CONSTRUCTION: A HOT CAREER PROSPECT!
We’ll leave you with the message we gave those kids: construction careers are not just a hot prospect; in South Carolina, they are the hottest prospect for our young people, and the need stretches out well into the future. UIG needs talented, dedicated people to build our parkways, overpasses, and bridges.
If YOU are a young person (or if there’s one living in your basement) we encourage you contact UIG to learn more about the many opportunities for millennials in construction – and a whole lot of other folks, too!