At one time, trade labor was viewed as a good job, where people could make an honest living, building the spaces that make our country great. Learning a skill, and working with your hands was the norm for many people entering, and moving through their career. However, now, many of those skilled hands are retiring and there is a shortage of trade labor entering the workforce. People are trading their hammers and screwdrivers, for computers and desk jobs. Many students are taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt for a job that will hopefully be around when they graduate.
But as it turns out the trades are still good jobs, and there is a shortage of labor- the trades aren’t what they used to be when your grandfather was packing his lunchbox, and heading out for a long day of hard labor. The Construction industry is where your work creates tangible things, helps others, and is appreciated.
Your New Construction Career Path
There is no perfect blueprint for moving up the ladder in construction (puns intended). There are a few different ways to think about the workforce, either through skilled labor, or the management of construction (or both).
Skilled Labor: It takes people to actually make construction work. Computers, robots, or automated equipment won’t be running electricity or plumbing throughout buildings. It takes smart people to problem solve and execute the complex systems required from today’s buildings.
Let’s use an example of an office building: Because of the demand from computing and white collar workers, someone must build the offices and infrastructure to allow them to do their job. Skilled tradesmen have to ensure there are enough outlets to power an office space (for their iPhone, tablet, computer, and desk space heater). Skilled plumbers need to make sure there are enough toilets to handle the demands for effect of the several cups of coffee. HVAC technicians are probably one of the most underrated skilled trades out there – making sure that buildings remain cool in hot months, and warm in the cold months.
The skilled labor is critical to ensuring the world works at the convenience that we have come to know. And as the world evolves, so does the skilled labor. New technologies require new skills in the labor force. Building codes and requirements ensure that people can safely perform their work in a building that is sufficient for commerce.
Construction Management: The other career path in the construction world is the management of the construction process, most commonly known as a general contractor. The General contractor oversees the skilled trade labor, and knows a little bit about all of it. The General Contractor serves the important role of ensuring things are built to specifications, and the highlight the work that tradesmen do every day!
Construction Managers aren’t the people swinging a hammer or busting down walls. These people are the planners, coordinators, managers, and leaders of the construction world. The workforce needs more people to plan and help guide others through the construction process.
The Construction Industry Outlook
The Department of Labor are estimating that millions of skilled labor jobs will be required in the upcoming years, due to the retiring population, and the increasing demand for new construction projects. These jobs will take skill, ability to problem solve, and pay well over the upcoming years, as construction gets more challenging and demanding.
The world has changed. Technology is taking over many industries. Take the evolution of the retail industry for example. “Mom and Pop” Stores got beat by Walmarts and super stores. Malls were the place to shop in most major cities. Now Amazon is taking over the entire retail segment, drive stores like Sears, and JC Pennys to close. The construction world is automation proof. A “.com” or overseas labor job isn’t going to replace an electrician, plumber, carpenter, or mason. Yes, the construction industry is adapting technology to make us better, faster, and efficient, but it won’t be replacing the labor required to make the work happen.
Skilled labor is also a way to beat the norm of student debt. Trade labor can often be obtained with on the job training, trade schools, or even skills learned and passed down between generations. The cost of obtaining a 4-year college degree is increasing rapidly, while the amount of jobs requiring a degree are remaining stagnant. But construction jobs are available and labor is needed, with the barriers to entry are low, and the salary pay is increasing in most areas.
Currently, housing construction is on the rise, and demand for commercial construction is strong. In a world that is celebrating a startup culture, these companies need places to work, and a desire to have their brand in the built environment. Turns out we need people to build the spaces for the start-ups and entrepreneurs. People need a place to live, and like nice houses – someone has to build it.
If you Build it….
To be clear, a construction career takes work. Hard work. But if you build it, your career path will guide you to where there is unlimited opportunity and growth.
Imagine coming into work and knowing that your work is making a difference. Your work is transforming a community by renovating the eyesore building into a usable space. You are using your creativity to problem solve and create something real, tangible, and that other people will find valuable. You are working with smart people; investors, entrepreneurs, start-ups, restaurants, bars, and others in your community trying to do something. You are building something that ultimately, other will appreciate.
Start a career that will mean something. Be ready to look back on your career and think about how you made a difference, helped others, and spent your time doing meaningful. Not every career will have that opportunity.
Turns out Compton Construction is hiring. Join a fast-growing team that is here to Build Columbus!