For a while now, the construction industry has faced challenges when it comes to finding qualified candidates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, our industry lost nearly two million jobs in the last recession when folks left for other opportunities and never returned. This unfilled gap combined with the retirement of baby boomers and the lack of interest young generations have in pursuing a construction career leaves us all trying to answer an important question – how do we find talent in a tightening labor market?
Here at Bozzuto Construction, recruiting talent, especially for field management roles such as Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent, is currently one of our most important focuses and will remain so for the near future. And given the obstacles at-hand, we recognize that we must do things differently in order to connect with and appeal to more candidates. As a result, we have expanded our search with a multifaceted approach that promotes and provides training and career opportunities for a larger audience.
In development and construction management, the standard entry-level position requires a four-year college degree or the equivalent in proven experience. What about applicants who have neither? To such candidates, these standards can act as barriers that feel impossible to breakdown – unless they have the tools and opportunities to do so.
Constantly looking for ways to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment, Bozzuto Construction recently partnered with Howard County Community College (HCC) to broaden our recruiting efforts by participating in a new Apprenticeship Program.
Students enrolled in HCC’s Construction Management Curriculum will be interviewed to work with our project teams to learn field operations and best practices. Selected candidates will work at one of our construction sites for two years until they complete their HCC coursework and fulfil a specified amount of field training hours. The expectation is that their coursework will coincide with the hands-on activities we assign to arm them with real-world experience and knowledge of construction management.
The overall goal is to create a mutually beneficial program for the participants and our company by preparing these students for a solid career in field operations – which they will have the opportunity to begin here at Bozzuto Construction upon satisfactory completion of the program.
Once apprentice(s) are hired as full-time employees, they are paired with a strong mentor identified specifically for them. The mentor will act as a resource and guide, helping the individual identify goals and create a professional development plan that sets them up for long-term success.
While we are starting with HCC, we are also looking at construction management program enrollees from Northern Virginia Community College, The University of the District of Columbia, and Anne Arundel Community College. Furthermore, we are working with organizations like ACE Mentoring and MMCEI to encourage middle and high school students to consider a career in construction.
We are also getting creative in our approach to talent sourcing. Currently, we engaged organizations such as Helmets to Hardhats, which is a national nonprofit that connects veterans and transitioning military members to training and career opportunities in construction.
Likewise, we have connected with the Baltimore Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to review graduates from their Superintendent Academy and from Project JumpStart. The latter of which offers classroom and in-person training to help students gain the knowledge needed to become a construction professional and advance their career.
As we enter the college recruiting season, we are mindful of the need for us to send field representation so candidates can understand all of their options. Because most of the job fairs are going virtual, we are excited to connect with more universities that may be out of our travel reach.
Through my participation in various peer groups, I have learned that other general contractors are engaging in practices similar to those shared above. Knowing this, I am confident that our industry can come together to mitigate the talent shortage – by casting our nets wide and offering opportunities for more people to learn and grow as construction professionals.Learn more about Mark Weisner