It’s time to bring newer generations into construction sites

The construction industry today faces a serious skills gap and that means looking to younger workers to come into the industry and step up where there are shortages. Millennials (now aged 24 – 38) are the first younger generation that many organisations will target but there is also another cohort primed and ready to make a difference – Gen Z. The oldest members of this generation are already entering the workforce and could make a big difference to how businesses evolve, as well as whether they have the talent to keep up with demand.

The key differences between Millennials and Gen Z

Millennials don’t always have the best reputation – ‘entitled’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot where this generation is concerned. However, this was also the first cohort to focus on the necessity of meaningful work – not just paying the bills – and how individuals’ contributions could make the world a better place. Gen Z has had a lot more to contend with, including coming of age during a recession. As a result, many of those in Gen Z is focused on financial security and are likely to be more open-minded to exploring new industries. Both of these generations can find a home in construction work if the right efforts are made to bring them onto construction sites.

Attracting newer generations into the workplace

There is plenty that construction businesses can do to bring a younger cohort onto construction sites, including:

  • Providing a clear career path – is something that both Gen Z and Millennial workers are going to be looking for.
  • Commit to socially responsible values and a more sustainable approach – Millennials are highly likely to be attracted to organisations where this is clearly communicated.
  • Salary, benefits and incentives. Every generation responds to financial incentives in the workplace but Gen Z, in particular, tends to be looking for financial security. Competitive wages, a bonus structure and a list of attractive benefits will all be important.
  • Promotions are based on merit rather than time served. This is something likely to appeal to both younger cohorts looking for performance-based rewards.
  • Careers customisation. 56% of Gen Z would rather write their own job description than just be given a generic one and 62% want to customise their own career plan rather than have one created for them by the business.
  • Learning and development opportunities. Millennials may not have bought into the benefits of something like a mentoring scheme but Gen Z is much more open to the advantages that this can provide – and the opportunities in continuously investing in ongoing learning.
  • Technology and digitisation. Millennials are pretty tech-savvy today and Gen Z is the first digitally native generation to exist. These are workers who are not just familiar with integrating technology but who also expect its time and effort-saving features to be part of any workplace. Buying into tech – and allowing Gen Z the opportunity to use it to come in and disrupt with it – could be key to attracting this generation into construction work.

Many younger generations are primed and ready for the development and financial security opportunities that construction sites can offer – it’s time for many businesses in the sector to take steps to bring them in.

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