Editorial: 03.21.2019

Crafting the Solution

— R.J. Morris, Vice President Talent Management

Male and Female Craft Construction Workers Talking Together

The construction business is booming: recent tax reform, a call to rebuild America’s infrastructure and a business-friendly environment are all contributing to a rise in construction demand. While the pipeline may be filling fast, there’s a growing shortage that threatens the success of these projects: the craft professionals to build them.

The cause of the shortfall is clear: the average age of workers is 50. And as they near retirement, there are fewer people ready to take their place. As a result, unskilled workers are filling the gap, which increases risk in such key areas as safety, productivity and quality. That can lead to more rework and cost – the polar opposite of the certainty that owners naturally want.

The consequences resulting from the shortage of craft professionals are not yet felt equally by all general contractors and their customers. But that day is coming. How proactive the building industry is today in creating viable short- and long-term solutions to this industry-wide challenge will determine how well we perform for our customers over the next 10 to 20 years.

As an ENR Top 10 building company, McCarthy has a responsibility to help set new standards for success. We’re implementing a wide range of initiatives to encourage talented and motivated people to choose skilled trades as a profession. When they join us, we train them to become productive craft professionals committed to quality and safety. As part of a company known for building highly complex projects, they’re constantly challenged and rewarded for their success through financial incentives and a comprehensive benefits package.

Let’s take a closer look at how McCarthy is being proactive to identify and nurture the craft professionals of tomorrow.

A Five-part Strategy for Success

Because we’re built on a proud foundation of self-performance, McCarthy is fully vested in ensuring there is a strong craft workforce across America. We’re doing our part in these five ways:

  1. Recruiting: We start with recruiting full-time professionals in core markets such as Phoenix and Dallas. Next, we search for talent in a variety of proven ways, including veteran outreach and visiting community centers such as churches and schools at all levels (middle school, high school and college). We also partner with organizations such as SkillsUSA to promote vocational training.

And for those displaced by downturns in American manufacturing, fossil fuels and other mature industries, we’re opening the door to the opportunities of the future—including solar, wind, wastewater, 21st-century infrastructure and more.

Above all, we demonstrate that becoming a craft professional is a fantastic and rewarding career. To give candidates a hands-on look at what we mean, we hold career days to demonstrate what it’s like to work in the trades. 

  1. Training: As skilled craft professionals retire, there’s a knowledge gap that the next generation must fill. McCarthy has a full-time training staff and comprehensive skills assessment, plus onboarding programs to help fill that gap. The goal: give new hires the right tools, at the right time, to ensure they’re as knowledgeable and successful as the previous generations.
  2. Workforce Management: We identify which skills and capabilities are required for each project and then deploy our workforce accordingly. This helps mitigate local-market labor shortages, as we work to rebuild the nation’s overall pool of craft labor talent.
  3. Retention: Keeping craft professionals in the trade is perhaps one of our most important goals. As a result, we support them with robust human resources and a deep package of financial incentives. We like to say that McCarthy is where the best builders do their best work (because that’s what they say.)
  4. Referrals: Once craft professionals join us, our Craft Referral Program pays them a bonus to refer new candidates to us.

Our strategy is working. But it will take the joint efforts of the entire building industry to end the craft labor shortage. Now is the time to take action — and McCarthy will continue to help lead the way.

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About the Author

R.J. Morris, McCarthy vice president talent management, leads all talent acquisition and management activities for the national construction company. In this role, he oversees the team responsible for establishing talent supply and demand strategy, both internally and externally, and designing systems to attract, train and retain the best talent in the industry. With more than two decades of experience as a talent professional, R.J. is passionate about positioning construction as a rewarding career choice, overseeing the firm’s national outreach efforts for both salaried and craft professionals, and serving as a member of the McCarthy Partnership for Women national committee. He holds a master of arts in human resources management from Washington University in St. Louis.

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