- Construction industry organizations in Minnesota have teamed up to form Project Build Minnesota, a program that aims to increase the number of trade professionals in the state, according to The Associated Press.
- Project Build Minnesota's website currently offers employment and training resources, but organizers say they plan to reach out to parents, students and local school officials about job opportunities in the trades.
- Labor experts cited reaching out to diverse communities as one way of bringing more workers into the industry.
If the industry wants to beat its ongoing labor shortage, it's going to have to find new ways to attract workers outside of its normal applicant pool. Recruiting from such communities can mean reaching out to those who have historically been underrepresented in the industry, such as women and people of color.
Today, women make up only 9% of total construction employment. That number decreases markedly when adjusted to account for women in leadership roles or trade positions. Part of the pipeline issue starts long before women even reach the job site, according to Donna Ricca, who began her career working as a painter for a woman-owned construction company. Negative assumptions about women's ability to perform well in the trades and a macho culture on the job are part of the problem.
But events and recruitment targeted toward women could help change that. Programs like Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week and those targeting girls in school could help make construction more accessible to the demographic across age groups.
Latino workers have always been key participants in the nation's construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in 2016, roughly 29% of the U.S. construction industry was from the Latino community. That figure, however, does not include undocumented workers or account for regions of the U.S. with particularly high Latino populations.
Igor Fridman, co-founder of Queblo, a construction business app that connects Hispanic independent contractors and small construction company owners, said one of the keys to drawing more Hispanic workers into the industry is to maintain bilingual superintendents and foremen. That effort can create a safer and more welcoming jobsite environment, and help establish firm anti-discrimination policies.
Fridman also recommended Spanish language-based training and certification programs, which could include business development classes for those wanting to start their own companies. Encouraging Hispanic ownership of construction companies, he said, could reach a wider pool of workers who feel more comfortable working for a Hispanic-owned business.