The journey from construction field work to construction company president may be a long one, but it’s not impossible.

Development and training of the next generation of construction workers has been stymied by the misconception that construction jobs are a last resort. When considering a career, young people should consider that construction workers are creative and productive. Work in construction can change every day, leading to a new adventure each day.

Internally, companies can encourage and mentor new hires with a written “ladder of opportunity.” Encouraging continuing education through hands-on or online classes will help employees do their job better. They can grow into the next generation of construction. Employees need to be informed and reminded that many career paths are possible. If they want to move up the ladder, they should know the steps they can take.

Some of those steps will invariably involve technology. Today’s employees need to have traditional as well as modern skills. Education for all employees should add additional skills on top of foundational skills.

Fortunately for the construction industry, forward-thinking high schools are bringing back and reestablishing career pathways for the skilled trades as part of their curriculum. The key is for both the students and the parents to understand the solid opportunities for earning that employees have in the industry, whether that is in the field or in the office.

Savvy companies ensure that employees can “walk a mile in the shoes” of other teams. Management can encourage and ensure that workers from one team spend time at work with the other teams, so they can experience and understand more of what those other teams’ work is like and how every team has an important role to play. Exposure to multiple types of work develops a richer company culture.

Beyond technology, another trend that is affecting construction is sustainability. Companies can achieve a level of sustainability through participating in projects that involve rebuilding and remodeling structures versus building new ones. Through remodeling, an old building can be transformed and become part of the community again.

Whether it’s a typical structure or an historic building project, this type of meaningful work can keep workers engaged, creative and enables them to add another level of skill. They can learn about the importance of keeping an open line of communication with agencies and organizations that have jurisdiction over the project. They can see the importance of flexibility in case things don’t turn out exactly according to plan. They can learn about the importance of relationships and communication as project priorities.

Developing trust is a skill that construction workers need to learn in order to mature in their jobs. And it’s a skill that is very difficult to hone on the phone, on a zoom meeting or by email. The face-to-face interaction and communication that are needed to develop trust are skills that employees benefit from no matter where they eventually end up, whether it’s working in the field or as construction company president.

Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 221 with guest Ryce Elliott of Benning Construction "Reaching Construction's Next Generation"
Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 221 with guest Ryce Elliott of Benning Construction “Reaching Construction’s Next Generation”

Tune in to episode 221 of Bridging the Gap podcast to hear about guest Ryce Elliott’s experiences with corporate planning, risk analysis, contract review, and pre-construction management.

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