Editorial: 11.03.2021

Developing the Next-Generation Civil Construction Workforce

construction worker

Recruiting is more difficult than ever across the country. For a skilled industry like civil construction, the dearth of talent makes an even bigger impact. Castle’s own Mike Pranger knows that this issue has long-term consequences. 

As Vice President of Operations, Pranger is responsible for understanding our business and industry in detail. He knows that the core of any company isn’t the equipment or the office. The real value is in its people. Castle’s impressive growth relies on the ability to bring in the right craft workers to keep building on its past success. 

Resolving the construction recruitment shortage will require education and a change of societal perspectives. 

Construction Jobs Hiring Challenges 

“Availability of talent in the marketplace is the biggest challenge. Companies are all vying for the same folks, and finding the experience needed can be tough,” he notes. 

Competition is stiff. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index, 92% of contractors say they have had a difficult time recruiting workers. A full 42% of respondents in the same survey said they were forced to turn down projects due to labor shortages.  

The shortage of trained, qualified civil construction workers could have a lasting impact on society. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 88% of commercial construction contractors report having moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers. A further third said they have turned down projects due to lack of workers. By 2025, the construction industry could be short 2 million workers. Recruitment in construction needs to be a priority within the industry, but also a focus for those in education as well. 

How to Recruit Skilled Trades

“As an industry, we need to continue to be active and educate students on the value and opportunity of construction careers, both on the office and craft professional sides. The world of construction provides an excellent future financially and also equips people with a skillset that is applicable to many parts of life. The industry as a whole has made great strides in use of technology, job satisfaction and balance to make those careers more fulfilling,” explains Pranger.

Castle sees recruiting craft workers as an ongoing process that includes an effort to “provide career opportunities and enhancements” that go beyond great wages. Perhaps more than most industries, this field requires on-the-job training to teach the skills and company-specific knowledge that puts our team in a position to utilize the latest technology and ideas. This ongoing skills-building is a part of our company’s dedication to helping our team flourish. 

Finding Skilled Workers Means Making Changes 

In addition to a societal push to emphasize the opportunities and benefits of skilled work, the industry needs to change the perspective on construction jobs. Change a “we need people” attitude to “we want to support more people,” and include that goal in recruitment messaging. 

Pranger sees additional value in prioritizing technology at Castle, an effort he calls “a huge focus”. Technology creates efficiencies that ultimately make civil construction careers more enjoyable. 

“Use of technology has come a long way in our industry, and utilization of these advancements can make us more efficient and more accurate in what we do. From software systems in the office that allow us to manage projects, connect remotely, stay in communication, and share data at the touch of a button, to technology like Building Information Modeling (BIM), GPS controls, drone video/surveying, iPad software to coordinate projects/manpower/material, and real-time equipment utilization and tracking through Power BI; Castle looks to leverage any technology that makes our company and projects better and life easier for our employees.”

Today, Castle employs 50 salaried employees and a further 140 craft workers between its two main offices in St. Louis, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska. Pranger believes they could easily add three more salaried employees and any number of skilled craft workers to meet the needs of current and forecasted projects. 

Training and experience requirements change based on the available roles, but applicants interested in working with Castle apply knowing that Pranger and the whole team provide a safe workplace and an opportunity to learn, train, and grow with the company. 

Build Your Civil Construction Career with Castle 

Search available positions at Castle and take a moment to meet some of the employees who have invested their skills, talent, and experience in continued success. Build a brighter future from the ground up; apply today. 


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