Although the U.S. construction industry is growing at a healthy pace, there are challenges facing the industry. A lack of skilled workers coupled with retiring baby boomers means attracting younger talent is imperative to fill construction jobs. The solution? Hire veterans. Many transitioning servicemembers possess the desirable skills, and many executed or managed construction projects while they served.
Finding Quality Talent
According to the Association of General Contractors, 82% of construction firms expect difficulties in recruiting and hiring qualified workers in 2018. That’s an increase from 76% in 2017. Moreover, 78% percent report challenges finding qualified workers to hire, up from 73% at the start of last year. About 21% of employees in the construction industry are age 55 or older, compared to just 9% who are 24 or younger.
Roughly 206,000 military service members transition to civilian life annually. The technical skills and training military veterans acquired while in the service make them ideal for construction jobs including project managers, crew leaders, operations supervisors, maintenance technicians, and machine operators.
Veteran Hires Come Equipped with the Right Skills
Veterans have strong technical, analytical, and creative building skills. Military construction specialists build and repair buildings, bridges, foundations, dams, and bunkers, and work with engineers and other building specialists as part of a military construction team. They are trained in carpentry, building and masonry materials and construction, joints and braces, and how to interpret blueprints and drawings.
Pipe systems for water, steam, gas, and waste are used in buildings, as well as on aircraft, missiles, and ships. Plumbers and pipefitters learn to install and repair plumbing, pipe systems, boiler controls, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems, as well as soldering, welding, silver brazing and cutting.
Heavy equipment operators work in every military branch in the construction of airfields, roads, dams, and buildings. Military electricians receive instruction on how to install and repair electrical wiring systems, electrical circuit troubleshooting, safety procedures, and techniques for wiring switches, outlets, and junction boxes.
Further training in the construction, building, and extraction fields occurs on the job and through advanced courses.
Veterans are Built to Lead
How a team operates determines its success. Stacking them with the right talent directly affects any construction project’s bottom line. Veterans are uniquely qualified to assume leadership roles in the construction industry, and many already have experience with government contracts.
The military experience translates directly into other construction jobs as well: field superintendents, production managers, maintenance schedulers, and lead product engineers. Veterans bring a formidable skill set to the civilian world, among them:
- Goal setting, tracking, and achievement
- Strong decision-making ability
- Organizing people and prioritizing tasks
- Ability to pivot and change course as circumstances warrant
- Clear communication of expectations
- Experience learning new technologies
Worker safety will always be a focus in the construction industry, and safety in the military is an integral part of all activities. Military members use risk management processes and after-action reviews (AARs) to identify and analyze situations to create a safer work environment. An AAR gathers an entire unit to review the mission, identify improvement areas, highlight safety concerns, and create a plan to fix problem areas.
Play the Long Game
The military stresses teamwork and safety, so veterans come to the table with a heightened sense of duty. Simply by serving, they’ve proven that they can think beyond just themselves. Many veterans have managed and maintained millions of dollars of equipment and led small teams. They simply need training on industry-specific roles.
Military training programs focus on objective and task-based training. Veterans come equipped with troubleshooting and soft skills. Industry experience is a short-term problem, but hiring military veterans presents a long-term solution.
Sourcing the Right Candidates
Bradley-Morris and RecruitMilitary, the national leaders in military-to-civilian recruiting, can connect construction firms with highly-skilled candidates to add to your team. Our candidate database provides us access to more than 1.3 million veteran job seekers, many of whom are ideal for positions in the construction industry.
by Katie Becker