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Innovative Ways Contractors Can Manage the Labor Shortage

Workforce Development

By Vic Lance, Construction Executive

Ever since the recession, the U.S. construction market has been experiencing a severe labor shortage. Unfortunately, predictions suggest this persistent tendency will probably continue in 2018, too. Even though the industry is growing and construction companies are overloaded with work, they still have trouble filling many job openings.

The lack of skilled workers is crucial for the business and causes many projects to slow down, with the construction companies losing money as they simply can’t finish work on time. Last year’s post-hurricane damages in Texas and Florida have once again reminded the industry of the significance of the continuous labor shortage problem.

While hoping for a solid overall solution, there are things that can be done in the meantime. Construction companies can outsmart the labor shortage and ensure their businesses don’t suffer losses in several ways, despite the lack of skilled workers. Here are some commonly adopted strategies.


Since the 2008 recession hit, more than a million construction workers have left the industry—and chances are they’re not coming back. But there are many potential workers out there that construction companies can reach out to.

The definition of a seasoned and skill construction worker obviously changes with the times. Companies should diversify and open up for workers that may not have fit their expectations 10 years ago. One such opportunity is hiring vets through initiatives such as Helmets to Hardhats, a program designed to provide training and job opportunities for veterans.

Many skilled workers have migrated from construction to the gas and oil industries, resulting in a place where recruiters can attract employers. Recruiting more women, immigrants or students graduating from high school is another option.


Being smart and innovative in the recruitment process sometimes isn’t enough. One way to get the same high-level results as with hiring seasoned and experienced workers is to invest enough time and money in training opportunities for novices.

Another way to promote education in the boundaries of the construction company is to involve well-experienced employees as mentors for the new ones. Encourage the knowledge exchange, as this will not only hasten the process of producing quality skilled labor, but will also strengthen the bonds in the company’s structure.


Updating business practices is a must, with or without a labor shortage. However, technology can turn out to be helpful in dealing with the lack of enough skilled workers.

Opening up for work innovations such as automated machinery and 3 D-mapping drones can save time and money and compensate for the lack of enough workers. In addition, using various software optimizing on and offsite construction can make the work of existing employees more efficient.


If a construction company bids on a big project and ends up lacking the number of workers necessary to finish it on time, it might make the most sense to ask for help. Using a team of subcontractors can be crucial in completing the job without any additional expenses and losses.

Having a project finished on time will ensure the construction company doesn’t get any contract bond claims. Contract surety bonds, such as performance bonds, are a form of guarantee, ensuring the construction company will complete the specific job as stated in the contract.


Look for deals with manufacturers that will include installation to go along with sales. Having the manufacturer’s crew come and install the specific pieces will save costs for hiring extra skilled labors.

Last but not least, construction companies can’t afford poor working offers for their employees. Companies need to make sure they offer an attractive deal. Flexible health benefits, retirement saving plans and a luring wage are among the perks that will attract more skilled workers to the construction company.

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