On-Site Magazine

Editorial: Take the bull by the horns

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February 10, 2016 by Corinne Lynds

308619_10150322163557190_877695502_nWe are off to a good start in 2016. Lots of big projects are slated to break ground this year, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism amongst Canadian contractors. However, we still have one fairly sizeable obstacle to overcome: Will we have enough skilled workers to get the jobs done?

We’ve been suffering from a skills shortage in the construction industry for some time, but that shortage is now significantly hindering companies in the hiring process, according to a recent employment survey by Hays Canada.

While many of the country’s construction employers have plans for a strong 2016, the vast majority (78 per cent) of respondents believe the sector suffers from a moderate to extreme skills shortage that impairs their ability to hire. Thirty-four per cent believe this is a consequence of less training and development, while an additional 31 per cent blamed declining numbers of workers entering the industry.

It’s not all bad news, though. Many construction companies are taking steps to tackle the skills shortage head-on. More than half of respondents (54 per cent) have chosen to offer training and professional development as a talent recruitment strategy. Not something we have traditionally seen in this industry before.

Doing so, has also addressed employee career development expectations, as 29 per cent of Canadian employees across all industries said they would leave an organization that doesn’t support their aspirations. In other words, young workers coming into the sector are more discerning than they used to be. They’re looking to work for companies that offer growth opportunities. And, if they happen to have highly sought-after skills, such as an engineering background or business experience, they have the luxury of being picky.

“Training staff and supporting career development is no longer a nice-to-have perk. It’s a basic employee expectation, not to mention a critical recruitment and retention advantage,” said Rowan O’Grady, president, Hays Canada. “It’s encouraging to see that construction firms have decided to take the bull by the horns and attempt to resolve their own talent shortage problems. This is good for business, great for employees and the industry as a whole.”

If you haven’t done so already, take a serious look at adding training and professional development programs to your construction firm. Not only will this help you to develop and retain the skilled workers that you have, but it will attract new candidates in what is quickly becoming a highly competitive job market.

Corinne Lynds