While the construction industry is growing again, recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor reveal that more tenured craft professionals are retiring or exiting the industry than new individuals are entering the trades. Construction managers live this daily as their companies interview four or more candidates just to find the one individual who at least partially meets a project’s trade specifications. 

As the challenge to find job-ready candidates grows, so do expenditures related to attracting talented employees. Contractors face expenses for job-board postings, print ads, social media efforts, and referral or sign-on bonuses. Plus, they incur costs associated with screening applicants, checking references and interviewing.
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When combined with on-boarding costs related to background checks, skill assessments, drug testing, physical exams, company orientation, safety training, benefits and payroll/HR processing, the overall per-employee hiring cost can easily exceed $2,400. And, this does not even include costs related to lost productivity initially realized with new employees until they are fully acclimated to the company and project at hand.

As the need for skilled craft professionals grows, more contractors are turning to contract labor available through staffing services that focus exclusively on the construction trades.

Following the economic collapse in 2009, there has been a major shift in the hiring practices of small and large contractors alike. Previously, firms primarily utilized internal resources to bring on long-term employees and relied on staffing services to fulfill short-term (one- to three-month) employee needs. Now, contract labor is an extension of many companies’ internal human resources departments due to the need to supplement their core permanent employees for all trades. In some cases, staffing firms are sitting at the table in their clients’ monthly or project-specific labor planning sessions, working hand in hand with staff to optimize project labor fill-rate percentages.

Construction staffing services invest heavily in multiple recruitment advertising channels above and beyond what many construction businesses can realistically handle financially or from an HR perspective. In addition, these firms employ numerous construction-experienced recruiters whose sole job is to attract, screen, hire and retain proven craft professionals. 

As a result, these firms keep exceptionally large employee databases—extensive trade-specific pools of safety-minded, job-ready contract skilled labor—that can be tapped to meet a contractor’s local, regional or national workforce needs. Proprietary software tracks when individuals will be coming off their current assignments and available for dispatch or mobilization to another client’s project.

This technology, combined with applicant tracking software that maintains constant contact with tens of thousands of pre-screened candidates in various trade pipelines, allows staffing firms to attain greater fill-rate percentages on client orders. Equally important, they provide craft professionals who more accurately meet contractors’ skill-set needs.

The stigma that contingent craft employees are inferior has been stamped out. Credible staffing services have stringent hiring procedures that have effectively sharpened the overall quality and reputation of the nation’s contract employees. These firms don’t just hire anyone. They rely on their ability to consistently provide contractors with safe, productive and highly skilled workers while taking good care of their valued employees.


Mike Christiansen is senior vice president of sales and marketing for Tradesmen International, Macedonia, Ohio. For more information, email mike.christiansen@tradesmeninternational.com.


ABC and Tradesmen International Sign Strategic Partnership Agreement

A new partnership between Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Tradesmen International will help contractors maximize productivity per dollar of labor. As part of the agreement, which took effect May 1, ABC members will have access to Tradesmen International’s Total Labor Support® services—including staffing, labor productivity consulting and OSHA safety training—to help them take control of labor-related costs. Additionally, ABC members can access a complimentary labor productivity analysis to learn how much they can save by incorporating contract labor into their overall staffing strategy. For = more information, visit www.abc.org/membership/strategicpartners.aspx.