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It is undeniable that the construction industry is experiencing a period of expansion and success since the gloomy years of the great recession. This rapid growth in the volume of new construction has created unique opportunities for millennials to enter an industry in which entry-level positions are bountiful and the compensation is enticing.

However, young construction professionals are entering a workforce with one of the highest age gaps between senior-level managers and fledging graduates who are seeking life-long careers in construction. Studies show that the construction industry has surpassed all other industries in age gap from the beginning of the great recession to the present-day boom by about two years. The average age of construction professional currently sits at about 40, which means the industry is facing an era of transition where experienced project managers and superintendents are phasing out of their careers—and the void is being filled by a new generation of skilled workers.

What does that mean for the new generation of construction professionals, looking to implement new methods for day-to-day operations?

Construction projects have been built on tested and proven management methods for decades, but with the rise of cutting-edge software and technology, the industry is going through an evolution that has changed the way companies are building structures. Senior-level managers facing the pressure of delivering projects under tight schedules are reverting to traditional methods of project management. By doing so, they circumnavigate the learning curve required to fully implement new technology that will help optimize project delivery in the long run.

What they are missing is the untapped potential of educated millennials who grew up in the era of technology. The new generation of construction professionals have the skills to learn how to use and apply the leading means and methods of construction management, such as lean pull planning and fully integrated project management applications. Although these novel concepts offer an upside, there is a period of transition required to learn how to integrate these ideas into day-to-day operations, and this front can be led by millennials with the appropriate talents.

What can be done on both fronts to find a middle ground?

Many young professionals in the industry step into construction with a fresh set of eyes and eagerness to grow, while the aging workforce brings decades of experience that brings tremendous value to every project. The new perspective brought by millennials enables companies to expose old methods that can be refined using software and management techniques that may seem unorthodox.

It is easy to use the excuse of increasing client demands to ignore the necessity for real-time research and development that can be led by the new generation of millennials. The companies that encourage the new wave of professionals to implement better means of project delivery while transitioning their aging workforce into the role of a mentor will experience current and future success while increasing retention rates of their staff.

By easing the burden of expectations on the experienced managers and allowing the new generation of construction professionals to lead innovation and technology integration, a balance can be struck between conflicting schools of thought. Millennials are looking for careers that allow for personal growth and autonomy to try out new strategies while the aging workforce is looking to provide value by sharing years of experience with their younger counterparts before eventually phasing out of the workforce.

Ways to foster collaboration between the two generations

The top national contractors in the country are faced with the challenge of striking a balance between appeasing both generations found in the workforce. It is evident that in the coming years, companies will have to deal with many aging professionals phasing out and new talent replacing them.

Now is the time to invest resources into educating the seasoned skilled labor force—as well as the developing personnel being hired—about how to use innovative practices being pioneered today to stay up to par with the competition. The need to link the two generations is critical to the industry now more than ever. With an already-limited workforce and increasing demand for qualified contractors, companies must pay close attention to their labor pool and embrace that the way projects are being built is changing as innovation continues to advance. By embracing the strengths and weaknesses of both generations working in construction, construction companies can ensure they have the adequate skilled manpower to lead construction projects successfully.


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