"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein
When it comes to practical and motivating quotes, Albert Einstein is among my favorites. His quote above reminds us that we must always challenge the “status quo” and strive to create new thought patterns to solve problems. Over the last 40 years, commercial construction has created a workforce problem with thoughts like:
- Schools will always have students graduating and eager to enter construction.
- We have enough trained workers so there is no need to invest in a talent pipeline.
- The economy is slowing so we will just pause training for now and pick it back up when we get more projects and people.
- Training is expensive, and we can’t afford to take people off jobsites or have them mentor others while on the job.
And the list could continue. We all have reasons for not pursuing things we know are good for our business. But when it comes to workforce, our most valuable tool, we just cannot afford to stop investing or shift our focus to other priorities.
2020 saw slowing work and delayed or terminated projects in the face of the pandemic. 2021 is showing returns to an improved construction marketplace but normal is still off on the horizon. Considering these two things, your company may be focused more directly on employee health and safety or pursuit of projects, allowing workforce and talent initiatives to pause or even stop. Maybe the schools you had partnered with in 2019 have not been able to collaborate, or your workforce has been reduced leaving only highly skilled and qualified craft professionals who you believe do not need development. Whatever your situation, downturns in the economy and times of crises often tempt us to shift our focus from long-term goals like workforce development and talent management. It is a reality in all industries. However, students and schools are continuing to focus on the construction trades, displaced workers are looking for new skills and career paths, and our current workforce wants continuing education and career advancement.
When the goal is to strengthen the safe, skilled, and sustainable craft workforce talent pipeline and re-establish a career in the trades as desirable, we cannot waver. Now more than ever, how proactively we stay engaged with schools, students, communities, and our existing workforce will impact the public perception of the skilled trades. We have been deemed "essential". The world cannot achieve its greatest accomplishments without our built environment. This is the time for us to place our best foot forward and continue to strive to compete favorably with other industries for talent.
Maybe you are not hiring right now, or your workforce is already producing high-quality work. Then host a panel for a school district, participate in a career fair and let your seasoned professionals share their passion with the future craftsmen, or produce a live or virtual site tour. Want to invest in the workforce you have, use this slower time to cross-train, or evaluate your existing workforce's leadership potential. Whatever you choose, do the things necessary to demonstrate that “essential” workers have lifelong careers, not just jobs, working in an industry that invests in their safety, skills, and advancement.
Not sure what “staying the course” looks like for your company? C3 has a solution.
- Take C3's Driving Business Results through Talent Management (ASA members are free in April)
- Set up a consulting session with C3
- Join C3's Career Hiring Event as a company, “speak to a pro”, or volunteer