Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Developing the Future Workforce of the Construction Sector

The construction industry faces prominent challenges, with labour and skills shortages being the third biggest strategic issue behind cost escalation and investor confidence.

Recent research by the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) validates the gravity of this issue, estimating an imminent need for more than 500,000 workers in the US alone to satisfy existing demand in the sector.


Where have they gone (and why are they going)?

Construction workers leave their positions for higher pay, better development opportunities, and a more suitable environment. These reasons for leaving an employer are not new in most cases; however, the elements now facing construction companies have catalysed their version of the war on talent. The demand for large-scale community builds that will provide for a retiring population,  a surge in non-residential construction, matched with a perception from the younger workforce that a career in construction is too labour-intensive, low-paying, and lacks mobility, has left the sector searching for answers. To exasperate the situation, construction jobs require more manual labour than others, forcing the ageing population to make quicker decisions about second careers outside of the sector or early retirement.


Slowing the deficit and changing the trajectory

Under normal circumstances, the high demand for construction projects should indicate potential growth and prosperity for construction companies, the sector, and the economy. Instead, it’s creating stress and strain.

Here’s where we come in.

Learning and Development (L&D) teams enable construction companies to compete effectively by focusing on people development and company experience. However, L&D teams in construction often struggle to meet the learners’ needs and then fail to meet business outcomes. Here’s why:

Nearly 80% of construction company employees are considered “deskless workers”. This means they are on a scaffold, managing a construction site, running site-side offices, or simply a remote worker without “office” space. These categories of workers share some of the same issues:

1)      Multiple responsibilities with little or no time for training

2)      Little or no access to technology to support training

3)      Accountability to a deadline or team that inhibits any time away to train

There is good news. We are aware. This is not a situation where we lack a root cause, and it’s also not a situation where we lack solutions. However, it is a delicate situation that requires matching the right solutions, delivered to the right people when they can appreciate the offer’s value.

Ideally, construction L&D teams look to provide learning support that would serve multiple ends and a spectrum of stakeholders:

Stakeholder Stakeholder need
Learner Easy access to training, development, and mobility no matter the starting point
Manager Empowered to help team members thrive
L&D leader Reliable reporting and automation to shift from time spent on admin to time spent on people development
Business Foster a safe and productive environment for all while showing productivity, profitability, and low turnover


When all stakeholder groups are satisfied, the trajectory changes. Instead of leaving for more money or opportunities, employees can see the path inside their companies for advancement and reward. Instead of watching good talent leave, managers will know how to develop talent to stay and thrive. Instead of focusing on how to report training, L&D leaders can focus on innovating training and learning opportunities. Instead of meeting the demand for service with low-quality work or long project timelines, businesses can entertain more contracts efficiently, leading to healthier bottom lines and pipelines.


Making L&D work for the construction industry

L&D leaders across the sector are building inroads to winning the war on talent. Recently, Kallidus spoke with L&D leaders from Baker Construction, Gray Construction, and HHHunt.  Each group is approaching the war on talent uniquely with practices that are making an impact.

Leadership development. Developing the next generation of construction leaders will set a path forward at Baker Construction, and Susana is leading the charge. Susana Reyes Lee, a multi-lingual L&D professional with a PhD in People and Human Resource Development, remembers her father’s work in a refinery and empathizes with the complexities of construction workers finding value in development.


“It’s a challenge to do something like this. My dad worked in a refinery so I know what it’s like to be one of these individuals that I am training and developing. A lot of the employees we are tapping to be leaders don’t even recognize that they’re walking in that space and on that path. I get to show them.”


See Susana talk about spearheading multi-lingual leadership development programmes with little classroom time at Baker. [Link to webinar]


Career Paths. When Stephen Hunt joined Gray Construction, he set out to help employees see a clear path forward. Not only did he establish Gray University to provide learning access to all employees, but he also established career frameworks for operational roles at Gray so that the people in those roles understood why learning and development were important to their futures and to make those roles more attractive to future candidates.


“We’ve established career frameworks for our operational roles with the intention to showcase what a career path for a team member really looks like. We asked our team members, people in those roles, to not just create a job description for their roles, but really identify the true competencies that we want to see our people demonstrate day in, day out.”


Using these frameworks for future hires at career fairs and internally has provided security for people who work for Gray. They believe Gray selects people for promotion because they have mastered the career path and will be successful in the next.

See Stephen talk about how he initiated career frameworks at Gray and how they are now serving the business foundational as it grows exponentially in a multi-billion dollar business.


Learning Outcomes. At HHHunt, Kenny, Sarah and GB desperately sought a solution for their learner engagement problem. Not only were they suffering from a compliance issue, but they were also losing talent. The team focused on two learning outcomes that set them on a path to secure technology to help them reach their deskless workforce and rally around their two goals. What’s more, the organization financially supported the outcomes to show all employees that learning and development meant that much to the business.

“We thought about learning as healthy competition. Yes, you must take the compliance training, but we have a carrot for you if you do. We call it “plus one”. If we hit our compliance benchmarks and 100% of the organization completes any additional development training of their choosing, reads a book, or takes a class, any learning counts; it is part of our bonus structure, so everyone wins.”


HHHunt is on track to achieve 95% compliance (up from 70% in some cases) and 100% “plus one” learning this year. Read more about how HHHunt uses Kallidus Learn and Perform to allow its employees to record “plus one” learning experiences and drive compliance through dashboards.


Technology that causes growth, not anxiety

Deskless workers, whether on a telephone pole or working from the kitchen counter, stress about access to employer systems and information. Kallidus’ Learn LMS removes this burden for learners, managers, and L&D leaders, ultimately serving as an asset to the business when it comes to completing essential training and forging a culture of development.

Learn LMS includes an easy-to-use, mobile-accessible platform for employees, engaging off-the-shelf e-learning content, alignment between learning, performance and business goals, a watertight reporting framework, and smart automation to reduce the L&D administrative burden. With 39 customers globally in construction, including Kier Group, Gleeds, HHHunt, and American Fence, and more than 120,000 construction employees using Learn LMS, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help your company address the challenges of labour and skills shortages and to develop the future workforce of the construction sector.

Small Kallidus favicon
Written by Dawn Baron


You may also be interested in...

Remote office worker speaking with colleagues through a video call
Employee engagement
Learning & development

What’s an LMS, and why do you need one?

Circular image of remote workers championing learning culture
Employee engagement
Learning & development

What features make an outstanding LMS?

Learning & development
Performance management

Unlocking Employee Potential: Nurturing Employee Aspirations for Success