Attracting Talent To Construction

How Contractors Can Appeal To Gen-Z By Leveraging Construction Tech

By NIKOLAI SUVOROV, Spectar CEO

How Contractors and Subcontractors Can Leverage Construction Tech to Attract Young Talent

In 10 years' time, Gen-Z will lead the Construction industry. My seventeen-year-old son thinks that "AR in Construction is pretty cool”, yet if I weren’t constantly playing around in HoloLens, he’d never have known it existed. I believe it’s time we asked ourselves an important question: “How can we as an industry expose the future’s young talent to the entire spectrum of Construction Tech?”

Gen-Z Construction

Construction faces an immediate existential threat: our talent pool is shrinking. The average age of construction workers is around 42, and boomers across industries in the US are retiring at a rate of 10 thousand individuals a day.

The AEC thought leaders of the future are currently in high school. While they might not be working yet, they are making critical career choices as we speak. More importantly, the way they discover jobs has completely changed. If you’re not on Google’s front page when they search “Jobs of the future”, you simply don’t exist. If you don’t play their rules, you’re invisible.

Let me make this real for you. I asked my son to search “Construction” wherever he lives on social media. He pulled up a TikTok video—a floor installation process (#Construction)—that had nearly 50 million views, and 6.6 million people liking it. Don’t take my word for it: Ask a teenager you know to find that video for you.

If your industry isn’t cool, Gen-Z doesn’t care. “Innovation” is no longer a buzzword: it’s a necessity. High school students are choosing to work in environments that reflect how they were raised: Technology first.

Gen-Z is “digital natives.” They are the first generation born into a world of furiously advancing technology. Most were using a cell phone by their 7th birthday, and half now spend more than 10 hours a day online. The idea of a world without the internet seems incomprehensible.

Tech-savvy talent promises to charge organizations with energy and tech-focused ideas. Attracting this new generation of leaders will not be easy. Construction is competing against the world’s top employers: colleges, an ever-expanding gig economy, and the military.

It’s time to change how we attract talent.

 

Construction Needs Gen-Z


The Construction industry simply won’t survive without an infusion of young talent into its labor force. So how can we make that a reality?

Gen-Z has one clear distinguishing feature: They are completely comfortable with new technology. For Construction, that practically means new talent will be most effective in integrating complex digital ecosystems and devices into their workflow - something we can only dream of.

With COVID-19 restrictions, my 9-year-old daughter is now doing long-distance learning like many other kids in the U.S. Every day she shares an incredible amount of information: all her work is done in the cloud, everything is handled in real-time, and 30+ people collaborate at once. And here’s the best part: She doesn’t even have an email.

Make no mistake: the technology gap is real. Sharing pictures over email with excel functionality is outdated. What appeals to Gen-Z are the advanced technologies: Augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles (AV), and robotics. The Construction industry committed to deploying these new technologies on our jobsite. And by the time we do, my daughter and her friends will be ready to enter the workforce. 

But there’s a silver lining here. If we play this right, there’s a reality where they love the idea of making Construction their career.

 

How to Get Involved


Here are 6 things Contractors can do to make a Construction career more appealing to Gen-Z:

  1. Go back to school. Young talent is found in the classroom, not the boardroom. Make your executives available for classroom appearances. Choosing a career is often stressful, and talks that inspire students with a blueprint for success in Construction can be highly effective. Why does Gen-Z look up to Kanye West as their role model, and not your CEO? Because they see Kanye every week online, and they don’t know who your CEO is.
  2. Make materials freely available. To reach digital natives, create digital-first collateral. That means swapping the flyers and pamphlets for TikToks and Instagram stories. (Have you found the flooring video yet?)
  3. Gamify your projects. For people outside the industry, Construction sites are inherently interesting. Curious passersby want to know what is being built, so make it easy for them to scratch their itch. What does that look like? Step 1: Work with the owners and GCs to create landing pages for all your projects. Step 2: Place QR codes leading to the landing pages around the site. Step 3: Capture curious students who scan your QR code, opening the digital door to opportunities offered by you.
  4. Communicate on their level. If you want to reach Gen-Z, you need to be where they live online. When Gen-Z has a question, they turn to YouTube for answers. Advertising on YouTube, TikTok and other platforms places you in prime position to capture their attention. Remember: Construction is interesting! You could create DIY videos of things they can build in their own room. You can show your Construction projects coming to life over a time-lapsed video. Perhaps best of all, leverage social proof. Document compelling interviews with Gen-Z peers discussing how a career in Construction has changed their lives for the better.
  5. Offer paid internship opportunities. The young people you want to attract may have immediate financial needs. Supporting them has an extraordinarily large benefit. This creates an opportunity for you not just as an internship provider, but as a springboard to accelerate their first professional steps forward.
  6. Invest in training with your “technology stack”. For your new interns, spend time bringing them up to speed with your technology. When they place your technology next to the digital platforms they use every day, you’ll know your business is finally ready for Gen-Z.

 

For Construction companies who want to attract tomorrow’s leaders, there’s never been a better time to flex their digital muscles than today.

I’m always interested in building relationships with like-minded professionals. If these ideas resonated with you, I’d love to connect. You can reach me here directly: nikolai@spectar.io

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