Labor shortages are rippling across Colorado’s robust construction economy due to the lingering effects of the pandemic and the inevitable consequences of Baby Boomers leaving the construction workforce ahead of schedule.
The Baby Boomer retirement rate was a concern long before Covid-19. But the construction industry’s workforce development strategies have not kept pace with its growing need for qualified employees. Most general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and others in the industry’s supply chain are struggling to attract and retain the talent they need to meet the pent-up demand for new construction as our national economy accelerates upward.
Here is the problem: With women making up just 9-10% of the construction industry’s workforce, there simply are not enough qualified employees in the pipeline to satisfy the industry’s workforce needs. And economists believe this worrisome trend will continue for the next several years, or until industry leaders learn how to attract and reward more qualified women throughout their businesses.
Here is the point: Today’s once-in-a-lifetime economic circumstances have opened a tremendous window of largely untapped opportunity for women – and there may never be another quite like it – to jumpstart their careers by filling a wide variety of leadership roles across all sectors of the construction industry.
So, where do we go from here? The thought leaders at Construction Executive recently observed that “Women in Construction Are a Competitive Advantage,” and they cited the 64% increase in woman-owned construction businesses over the past decade to support their findings. This is no coincidence. Women now comprise approximately 30% of STEM high school graduation classes, and this positive trend seems to be gaining momentum across the country. But more importantly, prior female STEM graduates have proven that they can provide great value to construction businesses throughout the industry by being highly effective relationship builders, expert negotiators, and agents for change.
Their track record deserves more attention and investment from construction industry leaders. For example, a recent construction industry survey prompted CE to point out that “Women in the Industry Love Their Jobs,” which CE wisely took a step further by challenging the industry to consider “How Men Can Support Women in Construction.”
Frankly, this a challenge that all business owners and community leaders – men and women from every industry – should graciously accept by becoming strong advocates for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, and by making the thoughtful investments that are needed to foster a healthy and rewarding workplace.
Bringing more talented women into the construction industry should be a win/win proposition, because they excel in construction leadership roles. To learn from just a few of their success stories, check out CE’s report, “Calling the Shots.” You will be impressed!