Why Aren’t Young People Entering Construction?
This is something I have had on my mind lately. The construction worker pool is shrinking—this is something we talk about at Constructech quite often. Baby boomers are getting ready to retire, and millennials just aren’t entering the construction workforce at the pace that is needed. But why?
I think Daniel Feigl makes a great point in the recent Episode of Constructech TV, out today, when he says skilled labor isn’t taught in schools as much anymore. If you haven’t caught the episode yet, I encourage you to view it either on our YouTube channel or at Constructech.tv.
This is a real challenge facing the construction industry. Too many millennials view the industry as stodgy, taxing, unsafe, and unstable. This is often the case for women too. We see the U.S. Dept. of Labor say that the number of women employed in this industry did grow between 1985 and 2010, but since that time there has been a sharp decline of women. Why? The recession had a big impact on the number of women working in this industry. They left and haven’t returned.
But I think there is something much larger at play here. There is this negative stigma that the industry isn’t safe, and that it is hard, manual labor. I will admit I was one of those women and Millennials (albeit an older Millennial who straddles the gap between Generation X, but I digress).
Many of you have heard me say that when I was younger I was interested in either becoming an architect or a writer. I chose writer. Why? There were a lot of writing classes and activities in high school. There was only one architecture class. That’s a problem. Also, a family friend asked if I could picture myself out at a jobsite with a hard hat. I paused. I reconsidered. I decided writing was a better fit.
This is so incredibly discouraging to me. Now that I have been writing about the construction industry for almost 10 years, I can say it is one of the best industries. The industry is not stodgy, taxing, unsafe, or unstable. As Peggy Smedley always says construction is one of the most resilient industries.
Construction is also innovative and full of opportunities. Technology is helping make the jobsite safer, and it is often taking the burden off of workers. This is the story we need to be telling. This is how the industry needs to get more women and millennials involved. This is one of the ways we can help solve the labor gap.
Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #construction #technology #software #millennials #ConstructechTV #safety #women