Now might be the perfect time to recruit employees.

One thing we can’t overlook about the disruption caused by COVID: it’s forced almost everyone to figure out tech on some level. Follow most tech roads and where do you end up? Young people. And what does transportation and construction need more than just about anything else in coming years? Young people.

As most of us have come to realize, today’s young people – most of them digital natives – are slow to cozy up to the skilled trades. We’ve heard enough and know enough about why, so we’ve rightfully turned our attention to the how. How we do accept reality, and endeavor to get young people to gravitate back to the trades like they did in generations past?

It might start with riding the wave of the COVID trend – which has forced us to work via tech in places where young people can be found. That said, can we also not then attract them similarly?

As Mitch Hughes, CEO of VIZZ, was quoted in a recent piece for Construction Dive, “COVID made it very clear that we have to run our lives efficiently in virtual ways because every company is moving that way as rapidly as they can move.”

A jump start

Within the same piece, Brian Poage, a construction support manager for software company Raken, pointed out, “When you need to survive, you start changing the way you operate. In the real world, if you don’t have a kick and a push like the COVID pandemic, the urgency isn’t there. Construction is capable of leveraging technology, but we just need a jump start – and I think COVID has been a really great jump start.”

A glass half full being what it is, it still behooves every industry company in need of additional workforce to be as technologically savvy as they can be in these times. Not that we need to be all things to all people, but at this point, if it’s realistic to recruiting or promoting your company (and if you have the personnel to pursue these avenues), you’ll likely find plenty of potential recruits these days on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Twitter – perhaps even Snapchat, Pinterest or even Tik Tok.

Essential business

While COVID has forced most of society to go digital for much of their vocational day, one interesting thing – and I mean potentially interesting to potential employees – is that our industry really didn’t let up. Indeed, the younger generation is very different than each generation before them, but job security and stability is a universal language, and we should all be marketing that as best we can whenever the opportunity presents itself.

An “essential service” can also easily be rebranded as an essential “career” – i.e., not something that is going to vanish when disaster strikes. In times of uncertainty and confusion, our industry has a built-in desirability for a situation exactly like the times we’re in, and we need to take advantage of it. While certain age groups may have been raised to desire different career paths, it doesn’t mean they can’t be educated as to the undeniable benefits of a lesser-understood path which provides a steady paycheck and likely additional perks like health coverage, retirement and the opportunity to make good money. Don’t be afraid to tout your company as an “essential business” – especially if it comes with these incentives.

As for training, we also know that many of our go-to training facilities have adapted – whether through digital means or modifications to physical practices. Don’t let a potential need for training get in the way of attracting young workers.

And there’s the reality that in a post-pandemic world, many people will be forced to switch careers. That can also be interpreted as many “young” people. All the more reason to take this moment and make the most of it – however it makes the most sense to you and your business.

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