The labor shortage in construction is not new, it’s a problem years in the making. This doesn’t stop it from being a pain point for companies short on hands, though and to add more fuel to the fire, workers are getting older. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age for a construction worker is 42. Industry survival rests in part on attracting younger workers, particularly Gen Z.

A recent survey from ECMC Group shows that rising high schoolers have interests that make them ripe for careers in trades like construction. A focus on skills, clear career pathways, and income potential are top concerns when it comes to post-high school decisions. Additionally, since the pandemic, there has been a growing interest in trades and technical schools as students question the value and cost of a traditional 4-year degree.

So how do you get them interested?


Gen Z is the first digitally native generation. They’ve never known a world without the internet and have grown up in the world of smartphones. For them, technology isn’t a novel luxury but a necessity. It is a tool to make things faster, easier, and more accessible. Leveraging the latest tools and equipment is a great way to attract younger workers and demonstrates a cultural attitude towards innovation and progress. Current construction workers may be resistant to integrating tech into day-to-day tasks, but for Gen Z it’s second nature. You can also use this adeptness to help teach and train older workers.


Growing up in the 2008 financial crisis has made Gen Z more pragmatic than their Millennial counterparts when it comes to career and financial choices. They are searching for careers that offer stability and opportunities for advancement. According to Deloitte, 29% of current Gen Z workers listed learning and development opportunities as a reason they went with their current employer. When interviewing younger workers, be sure to highlight any opportunities to learn new skills and clearly illustrate the value these skills could add to their career. Walk through what potential career advancement might look like at your company. Paint a picture that lets them see themselves growing with your organization.


Diversity isn’t just important to Gen Z, it’s a big part of who they are. According to the Pew Research Center, they are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation to date. They also take their commitment to diversity, along with many other social values, with them to work and actively seek employers who they feel aligned with. Demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion is a key driver in attracting younger workers.


Companies must learn to adapt to the needs of those who will soon be looking to make a career decision. Change isn’t always comfortable, but it is necessary. In an industry that has historically been slower to adapt, remaining flexible, adopting technology, and accommodating an evolving workforce will give construction companies a leg up when looking to recruit the next generation of workers.  

About the Author:

TroMarcel Broekmaat is chief product officer at Assignar, a cloud-based construction operations platform. For more, visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2022
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