Just how severe had the skilled labor shortage become in Vermont? According to industry experts, some contractors have changed their business models.
“A contractor I spoke with gave up trying to grow his business and bidding on additional larger projects, because he couldn’t find enough skilled labor to do the work,” says Dave Grippin, managing partner at Grippin Donlan and Pinkham, a full service accounting and consulting firm that works closely with many construction companies throughout Vermont.
Amid an historically low unemployment rate (2.1 percent in Vermont as of June; 1.5 percent in the Burlington region), what can contractors do to attract and grow talent?
Your AGC/VT team has been talking with members and other industry experts discover the best recruitment strategies.
Here are four strategies to try using today:
- Leverage Technology. Go online to find the next generation by posting job openings on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Indeed.com. You can even experiment with advertising on Front Porch Forum, which boasts over 165,000 Vermonters who receive daily updates based on where they live.
- Tap into local technical schools. If you haven’t already, connect with your regional technical school to support juniors and seniors interested in the trades, and to find potential new recruits for when they finish high school. Also, take advantage of Vermont Technical College (VTC). VTC ranks 9th in the Northeast region as one of the best public colleges. You can also try reaching out to trades schools and technical colleges beyond Vermont’s borders in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, or New York.
- Search beyond Vermont. Target regions where the unemployment rate is higher than Vermont and try luring prospects to Vermont. A higher quality of life, a more relaxed pace, and more family-businesses could be exactly what an out-of-state worker is looking for. If you or they are unsure about the long-time commitment, then try it temporarily for a construction season. Sell the environment at your company with lines like, “We’re a medium-size, family owned-and-operated construction company with opportunities to advance.”
- Get them in and keep them. A lot of focus gets placed on new recruits, just remember the ones currently on your roster. Make sure you’re offering them ongoing skills training, competitive pay and benefits, and giving them opportunities to advance in their job and at your company.
(For more recruitment tips, be sure to check out the next Build Board edition, in print August 15.)