Overcoming the Skilled Labor Shortage at McGill Restoration

skilled workers

Table of Contents

It’s no secret. The construction industry faces a labor shortage. It’s hard to find skilled labor, but demand remains high. This creates a serious problem industry-wide and every company has a different approach to filling critical roles. 

At McGill Restoration, we have worked hard to train and retain a great team. Here’s how we do it.

Understanding the Skilled Labor Shortage 

There’s no way to explain the shortage of skilled workers without being blunt. Job openings are rising against a shrinking applicant pool. It’s a difficult situation that is felt across the skilled trades. Federal funding for new infrastructure is robust. However, the ability to use those funds is hampered by the lack of skilled labor.

Construction job applicants fell 40% from 2019 to 2020 according to NPR. Companies are left to compete over a limited number of applicants who are desperately needed to complete projects. Some companies have failed as a result of not having the workforce to bid and complete jobs.

While 91% of construction companies are struggling to fill openings, some are seeking solutions through better training and candidate pipelines. Trade schools and programs targeting high school students and young workers are useful tools for the future.

As of now, there are major contributors to the skills gap and labor shortage:

  • An aging skilled labor workforce
  • Limited young workers in training programs
  • Lingering impacts of the Great Resignation 

How McGill Restoration Recruits and Retains

McGill Restoration is proactive when it comes to recruiting and keeping qualified workers for restoration jobs. It’s no accident that we have multi-generational families and longtime crew members. Every new hire is brought on board with the intent of training and growing with the company in a stable career role. Candidates are still limited, but we focus on building a positive culture where everyone is treated like family. 

Our Employees Are a Major Recruiting Asset

Our existing employees are encouraged to refer candidates for open positions. We offer incentives and have found that our valued employees bring some great folks into the fold. The program is extremely effective. Referrals help us find and hire inexperienced and experienced candidates for several roles.

Outside of employee referrals, candidates are found through job boards, trade schools, and internship programs.

Training and Mentoring from Day One

Many of our new hires begin as general laborers. Our specialties require on-the-job training to learn specific equipment and techniques used for industrial coatings, concrete, and masonry work. We also have the sandblasting division that requires training to learn the ropes.

Laborers are always training on projects and learning from experienced crew members. They may begin by grinding concrete and cleaning before moving to operate industrial coating pumps, mixers, and other equipment.

As employees learn and become adept at every aspect of our process, it’s time to move toward foreman roles. Developing great leaders is a major reason our crews perform so well

Off-Season Training Programs

At McGill Restoration, we invest in our employees. When winter arrives, outside training programs are offered to advance skill sets, teach safety and add new certificates for everyone. 

While on-the-job training is our most valuable tool, outside programs are excellent for gaining new perspectives and skill sets. If employees bring a training program to our attention, we are always willing to invest. Otherwise, we offer some optional and mandatory training to hone skill sets throughout the off-season. 

Engagement and Perks

Keeping a pulse on employee satisfaction is an important part of retention. We encourage open and honest communication with everyone. Regular surveys and meetings offer valuable feedback. Additionally, progressive pay increases, benefits, and bonuses reward loyalty and long-term commitments.

We want our crews to have the opportunity to advance, save, and live well beyond the job. The chance to have a great career with a company that cares certainly helps with retention.

Supplemental H-2B Visa Workers

When the schedule is full, we need labor-ready crews to hit the ground running. H-2B Visas allow us to bring great foreign crews to work. Many of these folks are experienced in various aspects of construction and they work great with our local crews. Through the H-2B program, we can keep pace with our busy schedules.

Managing Expectations on the Job

With industry-wide labor shortages, it’s imperative to manage timelines and communicate clearly. We are dedicated to hitting every deadline and making a point to deliver honest expectations and timing on every bid. Through upfront communication, our projects can move forward smoothly. 

Are you interested in a career with McGill Restoration? Check out our careers page for current openings.

Tired of fielding complaints about your deteriorating structure but don’t know where to begin to fix it?

We can help.