May 25, 2023
What Are You Doing About It?
BY Sandy Lender
It feels almost like a cop-out to write about workforce development here. I’m not telling you anything new by saying, depending on the region of North America you’re in, you’re probably struggling to find laborers, estimators, office workers or something in between.
What I’ll say instead is we have oodles of ideas in this industry for finding workers to fill jobs. You may be tasked with training the individual you hire into the construction workforce, but the humans are out there, and we need to attract them. We’ve got articles about that on TheAsphaltPro.com to help. Visit your local chamber of commerce, state asphalt pavement association, AGC regional association, and so on, for even more ideas.
Now let’s talk about what we should be doing to attract the next generation. Not necessarily the kids in high school whose guidance counselors are falling asleep at the wheel. I’m talking about our grandkids. (In my case, this would be my nieces and nephew, all of whom have been inundated with random gifts of adorable construction stress-relief squishies and construction t-shirts over the years.)
About a decade ago, AsphaltPro Magazine and EZ Street teamed up to create a children’s activity book titled “Asphalt Lane,” in which Chip—a young haul truck—learns about paving. From safety in construction to how the plant works to how a road is paved, kids in elementary school learn alongside Chip. (You can order copies in bulk quantities to hand out at open house events, zoning meetings, Girl Scout campouts, first day of school, and so on. Visit TheAsphaltPro.com/asphalt-lane/.)
Recently, IUPAT union member Marisa L. Richards released a children’s book that teaches girls they can grow up to build in our world. Her colorful hardcover features 16 construction “jobs” anyone can take on if they aren’t afraid of “a little hard work,” but she targets young ladies for our future in “Girls Who Build.” Each page has a rhyming couplet to catch kids’ attention while you read to them, too. If you’ll grant me a moment of personal privilege, I posted a review of the book on my BookTube channel, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/HGk2eVQLoRk.
At press time, you can preorder the book on Amazon; it’s available after June 1. I highly recommend it for young elementary school kids. It’s another one that’s great to hand to a teacher for the first day back to school.
All this leads to a question. What are you doing to attract the next generation to our workforce? I know for a fact Ajax Paving Industries of Florida invited a Girl Scout troop to one of their facilities and gave the girls an awesome opportunity to see our industry up close. I bet you have some ideas, whether you’ve had the chance to implement them yet or not. You’ll see this post on LinkedIn and Facebook. I encourage you to get in on the discussion and to share ideas for recruiting now and into the future.