LIMA — It’s a good time to be in the construction business.
With a rising number of projects comes the need for more construction workers. Due to the sheer labor intensive job in construction, there is also a need for workers due to the retiring Baby Boomer generation. Enter the Millennial generation.
Labor shortage is a national problem.
“We’re part of the Associated General Contractors of Ohio, and this is not only a problem here in Lima but a national problem, so we’ve been working with them to understand how and who we need to educate on the opportunities in construction,” said Paul Crow, president and CEO of Tuttle Construction, in Lima. “Not only do we have to get to the kids early on, elementary or junior high, but we also have to educate parents that construction can be a very good career path for a lot of people, depending on their aptitude and what it is they want to do,”
Reaching the Millennial workforce comes in several ways, including job fairs, social media and apprenticeship programs.
“We are engaging with all the career schools, Lima Senior, Apollo, Vantage, Tri-Star, and this is through an initiative with economic development that we did years ago,” said Mike Knisely, president of the Lima Building Trades Council and Plumbers & Pipefitter Local Union 776 president. “The Makerfest has been a game changer around here, and now they are taking that a step further. Ohio Means Jobs is becoming the one-stop shop, but they’re steering those to the apprenticeship programs.”
Once they find the appropriate workforce, changing the culture of the business is important in retaining the younger workforce.
“We’re just changing our culture,” Crow said. “The old versus new thinking. It used to be employees were a big risk, and now we see employees as a big asset. That’s what we have to convey to them and share with them.
“We just hired three Millennials in January, and so we have to start working with them on a career path because that’s one way to retain them, if they can see there is a career path.”
Marketing to the Millennials has changed as well.
“I’m not saying we had to make our trades sexy, but we have to keep up with technology not only on how we do education, but we have to let the kids know that it isn’t just turning pipe wrenches for your whole career,” Knisely said. “There are ways that you go into management and into so many different facets, the sky is the limit on what you want to do. And there’s more money in it.”
Training the current workforce is a plus to learn what works for the Millennial generation.
“One of the things I have learned in two of the three trainings that I have been to is perks outside of the workplace seem to be something that Millennials really value, whether it be team dinners or social functions,” said John Contreras, human resource manager at Alexander & Bebout, Inc., of Van Wert.
Construction is a good field to be in at the present time.
“I would say because where we’re at in our world today, yes there are truly opportunities for a career in construction, both in the field and in the office,” Crow said.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.