Recruiting and Retaining Staff in the Construction Industry – Part 2: Apprentices
Welcome to part two of our three-part series on recruiting and retaining staff in the construction industry.
Staffing issues are constant issues. This series is meant to give you actionable ideas and tips to help ease the strain of being understaffed. The series is based around the idea of “being the company people want to work for”.
We covered this in part one but it’s worth repeating:
“Some of the topics covered in this series you won’t like reading about. But if you truly want to solve your staffing problems, and keep growing your company, while still being able to take vacation, it might be time to explore the possibility that it’s not them (your employee’s who show no loyalty), it’s you (the employer who gives them no reason to be loyal).”
Part one was on being good to your employees and using referrals. Part two is focused around recruiting and retaining apprentices.
Part 2: Apprentices
How many of your employees are over the age of 45? What is your succession plan for when these employees retire?
The 2016 Construction Industry Survey showed that two-thirds of workers in the industry are over the age of 45. The survey projected that by 2025, 15,000 construction jobs will be unfilled because there won’t be enough young people trained to fill those jobs.
Apprentices are your next generation of labourers and foremen. They are the ones that will continue the brand and reputation you’ve worked so hard to build. If you don’t already have a plan in place to hire, train, and retain apprentices, now is the time.
Hire and Train Apprentices
Your next apprentice will probably be new to the construction industry and in need of training. Educational institutions are where you’ll find them.
While most tradesmen get a job as an apprentice, then go to a designated institution to get their required technical training, some start learning in-class before being hired as an apprentice. Some even start courses while they are still in high school.
Many of these educational institutions will draw from industry experts in the community to teach specialized workshops or to give presentations about possible career paths. Contact local high schools, continuing education programs, and post-secondary institutions to see if they have a volunteer program like this. By presenting to high school students and those that are just starting their specialized schooling, you can get them thinking that your company is who they want to work for.
If you don’t have the time to give a presentation or teach a class, consider sponsoring an event or utilizing the school’s job boards (we’ll discuss this more in part 3).
How ever you choose to do it, it is important to know and partner with these training institutions in some way because they are training your future employees. Dyggz can help you make a hiring plan for this. We do more than websites.
“The Industry Training Authority (ITA) leads and coordinates British Columbia’s skilled trades system. ITA works with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, supports apprenticeships, fund programs, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades.” – from the ITA website
As you know, the ITA provides financial incentives, in the form of grants, to hire apprentices. They also register companies that hire apprentices. By being ITA registered, you are able to display a badge on your website showing that you are a proud employer of apprentices.
If you don’t already have one, consider getting this badge and displaying it on your website. It will make your company even more attractive to apprentices looking for work.
Dyggz can help you to display this badge. Construction industry websites are our specialty.
Onboard Apprentices Properly
A good amount of training will happen at the educational institutions we’ve already mentioned, but there is still more to be done. By having a program in place at your company to thoroughly train your apprentices, you will gain more knowledgeable and skilled employees.
The first key step is to onboard your new employees and apprentices properly. Having a checklist of forms to sign on the first day, an accessible company directory including pictures, and a quick description of expectations and company culture are only a few things that go into a sound on-boarding program.
Dyggz can help you to build out your on-boarding program. We do more than websites.
Creating a company culture that welcomes and supports new staff is vital to retaining them. By making the newest members of your team feel welcome you are solidifying their choice to work for your company.
This attitude can be built in a number of ways. One way is to assign a mentor to every new employee. The purpose of having a mentor is so the new apprentice can quickly learn the ropes and fit into the company. An added bonus may be that the mentor teaches their mentee on the job skills, but the main goal is to learn the company culture and show support for the new team member.
Another suggestion is to host an event once per quarter. The purpose of this type of event is for the people involved with the company to get to know each other outside of a work setting. Invite contractors and encourage employees to invite friends in the construction industry. Whatever the event is, remember to be inclusive, beers after work are fine if you include other drink choices as well.
No matter how you do it, encourage a company culture of support and mentorship.
Partnering with the educational institutions in your area will help you find your next generation of employees. The schools are invested in finding employment for their students, and in most cases, they already have programs in place to help you recruit.
Hiring is only the first step. Having strategies around training and retaining apprentices are what will ensure your company’s future success.
Education Institutions on Vancouver Island:
- Camosun College
- Vancouver Island University
- North Island College
- South Island Partnership
- North Island Partnership and Central Island Partnership
Other Resources in BC: