How Workforce Data Can Help Close Contractor Skills Gaps

Tracking experience and emphasizing growth and development can change the perception of working in the construction industry to appeal to the next generation of workers.
By Michel Richer
September 21, 2021

As baby boomers continue to retire from the construction industry along with the continued disruption caused by COVID-19, the culture around employment has made a dramatic shift. With millennials now comprising around 35% of the global workforce, many contractors are wondering how to make their organization more attractive to the next generation of construction professionals.

A skills gap isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. A small gap in the demand and supply is an indicator of a growing industry and provides workers with an opportunity to more easily change jobs to further their careers. However, too many job openings in relation to the available talent pool leads to difficulty filling positions and the talent pipeline starts to fall behind the demand.

The good news is that there are ways contractors can use their existing workforce data to help reduce their current (and future) skill gaps.


Hiring trends can be challenging to predict given the ever-changing nature of construction projects. More often than not, the recruitment process is reactionary to immediate project needs. Human resources teams will be given hiring requirements in the eleventh hour, which often leads to late crew build-up.

There are workforce management and workforce intelligence tools that can provide insight into workforce utilization rates to help forecast future staffing needs well in advance. In some cases, an internal tool or spreadsheet can also be used, but the tedious nature of constantly updating utilization rates every time a schedule shifts often leads to this data become stale and inaccurate.

Contractors should aim to identify trends in coming months (or years) that their team is either being spread too thin, or is being underutilized. Identifying these trends early will give contractors and HR teams the information they need to begin the recruitment process for required roles. Identifying these trends can also provide ample time to upskill the existing team to take on required roles, or provide adequate training to new hires.

Tracking utilization rates will also help to identify gaps in the project pipeline where a contractor can take on more work. These gaps often lead to periodic layoffs for team members, which can result in team members understandably seeking work elsewhere. However, these gaps in the project pipeline are also opportunities to provide new training and mentorships to high performing individuals to keep them engaged in their work through down times.


No one understands the specific skills a contractor needs to close their skill gaps better than contractors. If a contractor is in need of skilled workers, it’s important to highlight the specific skills and experience they need. By taking the time to properly (and accurately) track their team's skills and experience, contractors can then analyze this information to understand exactly what the expectations are for each specific role in the company and identify team members that may be better suited for an open position instead of a lengthy recruitment process.

Burning Glass Technologies, a labor market analytics provider, recently indicated in a report that the construction industry has actually had more supply than demand when it comes to skilled workers over the past few years. That supply to demand ratio, however, has decreased year over year. Part of the problem is that organizations will require specific skill sets and a minimum level of experience instead of offering training and experiential learning.

Every contractor wants to hire the perfect candidate, but candidates that would qualify for open positions will be often overlooked because the hiring requirements exceed the skills and experience that the current team possesses. A contractor needs to know exactly what they’re looking for in a new hire, and make sure it aligns with other team members in the same role.

The construction industry, like others, is shifting to an experience-based economy. That experienced-based mindset informs how and where the next generation of construction professionals will choose to work. Contractors that invest in providing experience for candidates rather than demanding it are more likely to retain high performance individuals in the long run.


Contractors need to put an emphasis on tracking their individual team member’s experience and engaging their workforce with opportunities for new training, experiential learning and mentorship programs. In addition, organizations should also clearly define roles, responsibilities and qualifications for employees as they work their way up through the company. If a contractor wants to create and retain more “A-players” within the company, they need to clearly communicate expectations and provide opportunities for career development.

Where does data come into play? Tracking an individual's skills, certifications and experience in relation to their project history will help contractors stay ahead of opportunities for internal career advancement. It’s great to have team members interested and asking about new opportunities within the company, but it’s ideal for a company’s culture to have those opportunities being offered from the top down. Contractors should track and identify team members that are consistently performing at a high level. Adversely, by tracking the same information, contractors can also identify team members that may feel as though they’ve plateaued when looking at their project history.

By tracking experience and placing an emphasis on growth and development, contractors will be more likely to have a team that’s engaged in their organizational culture. This shift in culture can also help to change the perception of working in the construction industry overall, and more specifically, help to appeal to the next generation of workers.

by Michel Richer
Michel Richer got his start in the construction industry at an early age with a local restoration company. Michel is driven to propel the construction industry forward by helping to eliminate outdated, ineffective processes. 

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