Symptom 1 – Insufficient Human Resource
Having to do too much?
The UK and US construction industries suffer a deficit of human resources required to meet its demand, leaves an overbearing, unreasonable workload for those punching in each day. This deficit is often referred to as the “skills gap.”
Why is there Insufficient Human Resource?
Was it The Recession?
When people ask what caused the skills gap, many fingers to point to the recession. For when it hit, the construction industry, among others, ground to a halt. The work vanished, and the employees, and contractors, had to find a wage elsewhere. Eventually, the economy returned, but the workers did not, despite their precise set of skills that lend only to this industry, construction.
The owners of these fingers settled on the recession because they had found something outside of their circle of influence that provided an excuse from doing something more proactive about the problem. If you keep looking, however, there is more to explore.
The Recession was a Long Time Ago
A decade has now passed, and yet the skills gap has not closed. Can we still blame the recession? We know the construction industry has, for some time, been desperately screaming out to train new people in the necessary skills. But no one has taken advantage of this desperate position.
Right now, as a construction job seeker, you have high bargaining power. If you want a favorable employment contract, now is the time to get one; but no one is despite the gratifying careers available. The “skills gap” has not closed.
So let’s not blame the recession anymore.
Are People Too Lazy?
“People don’t want to put in the work,” is an often-shared theory. The “lazy millennials” often get blamed. Well, what’s the difference between the millennial generation and those before it? The same thing that separates all generations, time. We are all human, and all have needs we want to be met. The millennials, however, are shaping their lives in a time when they can take greater control – and why shouldn’t they? The lazy individual is the one who doesn’t want to change with the time and hopes that everything will work out in their favor. The lazy hope life will forever remain familiar, so they don’t have to adapt.
The Cause of the Deficit
Times Have Changed
No longer is control held by those with ownership of enormous wealth, land, factories and machinery. The industrial revolution has passed like the agricultural revolution before it. In this interconnected world, there are other ways to design a successful life, and the smart ones are choosing a different path than the 9am-5pm repetition that their parents and grandparents had little choice but to accept. Even baby boomers who have the “it’s not too late” mentality are choosing to change paths.
We have a choice, and we choose ‘no.’
When presented with two paths, we’ll naturally choose the path of least resistance, and a career in construction is far from making the cut.
People decide not to work in the construction industry because it costs far more than the value it returns. The ROI is abysmal. To access a career in construction, you have to pay with your personal life; your health, your relationships, your family, etc. In return you’ll get some of the most rewarding careers, but is it worth it? Maybe to some. Not to me.
We choose the path of least resistance
I recall meeting the wife and children of a Project Manager I admired and idolized. That day I overheard his wife complain, “you love this job more than your family.” I told myself that won’t be me.
On a project in New Zealand, my QS shared stories of his marriage. He was an older gentleman, and his wife had sadly passed away some years before. He admitted his time spent at home with her was less than they desired, but he said she enjoyed the money that came as a result. “That isn’t my wife,” I thought, “and that won’t be me.”
Many will happily trade their personal life for their image of success; be it industry status, money, or something else. Not everyone will, though, and I won’t. A career should support one’s personal life, not devour it. Many agree with me, opt-out of construction, and leave a deficit of resource as a result.
If It’s A Choice, Are we Choosing Not To Be Successful?
Some might question my desire to be successful or impactful. Many argue that to be the best of the best you need to make significant sacrifices. I’ve heard rumors that new employees on their first day at the giant companies, such as Apple and Google, are informed they will have to leave their personal lives at the door and give all of themselves to the company. If that’s true, then for many, the high status or salary must be worth it. I have friends in the investment banking world who work long into the night and earn substantial wages and bonuses in return.
If people want to prioritize their life as demonstrated in these examples, then good for them, genuinely; perhaps it is worth the sacrifice.
In construction, though, you aren’t the best of the best. The construction market has a terrible reputation, and none of the players dominate the market. You aren’t earning big bucks either. You’re doing okay, but you aren’t browsing Porsche magazines for the next fun thing to buy with your upcoming bonus. So why make a significant sacrifice?
A former mentor of mine told me, “to succeed you are going to have to do give yourself, all of yourself, to a construction project.” If he was right, what would I get for my sacrifice? Progress up a ladder leading further into poor quality of life? It makes me wonder what his image of success was.
I’ll keep saying it; I firmly believe construction offers some of the most rewarding and satisfying careers available, and if that’s all you want in life, then you know my recommendation. I’d take a day on the construction site over one in a bank any day. However, in my opinion, the cost of a career in construction is overpriced, and many are no longer buying it, hence, insufficient human resource. There aren’t enough people to do the work and those who are trying, crumple under the extra load they have to bear.
Are we surprised people aren’t eager to join up?