Predictions for Boston Construction 2015

| December 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Colm Allen

Colm Allen

Colm Allen

1. Millennials will become 50% of the workforce majority in 2015.

Companies that find a way to attract and retain these tech-savvy, independent and adaptable candidates will have a huge competitive advantage. A recent BLS survey noted that 58% of Millennials expect to leave their job in three years or less, so if your firm does not support the culture in which they thrive, be prepared to watch your investment leave and go to a competitor that does.

2. Average tenures of employees will get shorter.

The sharing economy means candidates are looking for less structured work. The more progressive companies will be upfront with potential employees that they’re offering a “tour of duty,” rather a career. We anticipate seeing PMs and supers hired “for duration of contract” only.

3. “Hire for attitude, train for skills” will be more common.

We believe the market will reward attitude over experience. Adaptable candidates can be taught skills, but an inflexible candidate can be toxic to the team. A+ teams need A+ players. Candidates who can negotiate, motivate, lead, and train are the power players of the next decade. Employees with mere construction management qualifications, while valuable, will not be the most sought-after. Construction is rapidly changing, and success will go to the firms that communicate and innovate the best. The future of construction is communication and money management, not simply building.

4. Estimators will become even scarcer.

Estimators are in huge demand again, and we’re seeing the re-emergence of third-party estimators. They are hired to produce benchmark pricing on a fee-per-project basis. While all salaries in general are rising, estimators will lead the curve of wage increases. According to the BLS, the employment cost of estimators is expected to grow by 36% from 2010 to 2020.

5. Technology is here to stay.

The world is digital, and the construction industry better get on board. Look for technology and tools that provide an immediate and collaborative environment. Tech is everywhere: APPs for purchase orders, text messages for updates, tweets about jobs, Facebook for social validation, Pinterest for design, Instagram for construction shots, drones over job-sites.

6. Construction in Massachusetts will increase by 10%.

With both Feds and AGC predicting 9%+ growth nationally, and with Mayor Walsh and BRA’s aggressive development vision for Boston, we will remain one of the hottest construction arenas in the nation.

7. Union work will surge.

Experienced tradesmen, such as p, electricians, carpenters, and welders, are becoming scarcer and scarcer. With the unions absorbing more and more personnel, this will put pressure on the nonunion sector. Here we see an influx of informally trained immigrant labor, with communications being difficult. Simply put, Americans are not entering the trades in adequate numbers. Also, although we don’t recruit for the trades, we are getting more and more requests to do so.

8. Margins will become even tighter.

Materials are becoming more expensive, the lack of available talent is causing salary increases, and resources and pricing are becoming available online; ultimately, it means contractor expenses are up, only to make less profit. It’s almost impossible to get a competitive advantage now. We predict that less hard-bid work and more “fee for service” opportunities will emerge. It is already common in residential construction, and we foresee that it will become more common in commercial also. One way or another, there will be more “open book” and “negotiated.”

9. LinkedIn as a recruiting tool will weaken.

Every day we hear from candidates who are tired of unsolicited approaches on LinkedIn. The most desirable candidates are happily working and need more than a social media connect to consider a new opportunity. LinkedIn is a great sourcing tool, but that’s about it. What’s the value of LinkedIn if every manager, recruiter, and agency has access to the same information? Candidates want someone who understands what matters to them, and why, when considering their next move. This must be an internal talent acquisition manager or a third-party agency like ourselves. Desirable passive candidates in the top 5% need more than an InMail to be recruited.

10. In conclusion . . .

It was a great year for construction in Boston, with next year looking equally good. Like all of our clients and candidates, we are constantly watching the market for trends, patterns, and industry evolution. We spend our days talking to the crème de la crème of the industry. And what we discover, we love sharing. I am always happy to talk to anyone at any time about anything related to hiring in our industry.

Colm Allen is president at Construction Recruiters in Milton, Mass.

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