ClickCease

Capital & Contract Management

Manage contract workflows from start to finish, from contractor/supplier selection through contract closeout including the related buyouts, pay requests and change orders. With our capital and contract management solutions, you can facilitate contracts and changes throughout the project, resulting in a 20% reduction in turnaround time.

Learn More >

Connected Analytics

Make real-time decisions as you gain visibility into metrics, KPIs and trends, driving continuity in operations.

Learn More >

Document Management

Our document management solution helps you streamline the capture, review, management and distribution of project documents. Because all your project documentation is stored in a centralized repository, you can reduce processing time by 30%.

Learn More >

Estimating & Project Cost Management

Our project cost management solutions help you create more accurate and timely project estimates, increase your forecasting accuracy, and improve the anticipated project ROI.

Learn More >

Field Execution Management

Manage work packages and daily crew plans to deliver and capture predictable results in the field, reducing project costs 10%.

Learn More >

Integrated Project Controls Platform

Only InEight provides a complete portfolio of capital project management software that supports enterprise-wide digital transformation.

Learn More >

Safety, Quality & Commissioning

Capture and analyze safety, compliance and quality data directly from the field, reducing rework by 10%.

Learn More >

Virtual Design & Construction

Use an aggregated 3D model as a common data environment, increasing clash resolution efficiency by more than 200%

Learn More >

How Owners and Contractors are
Winning the Battle for Today’s Best Talent

 

2/24/2022

33 Minutes

Request A Demo

Thanks for contacting us. A member of our team will follow up with you shortly.

AJ Waters:

Good morning or good afternoon depending on where you’re joining us from. Welcome to our live webinar, How Owners and Contractors Are Winning The Battle For Today’s Best Talent. And kind of to set the stage, interestingly enough, yesterday the Associated Builders and Contractors Association released a study stating that construction will face a workforce shortage of over half a million people in 2022 alone. And the study went on to say that this number will grow on average of 3,900 jobs per $1 billion of additional construction spending. And we’ve all been hearing how many billions of dollars are in an upcoming release of funding for an infrastructure package.

AJ Waters:

So with a shortage like this it becomes more and more difficult to retain top talent, or even to just find talent to hire in the first place, within the construction industry. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today what owners and contractors can do to win that top talent. But before we get too far, let’s do some introductions. First off, let’s meet our panel and we’ll start with Jennifer. Jennifer, why don’t you introduce yourself?

Jennifer Kolb:

Sure. Thanks AJ. Hey everybody. Welcome to our panel session. I’m so excited to be here. My name is Jennifer col and I’m the Vice President of Business Development at Tallo. I’ve been at Tallo for about five years and we’ve been around for 10. So as you can imagine, starting early at a tech startup, I’ve worn about every hat you can think of working with secondary ed, higher education and two-year, four-year programs, business and industry workforce development, large and small, whether it was Jen’s local auto body shop or it was Top 10 Fortune employers.

Jennifer Kolb:

So worked kind of across the board with a lot of different people, all with the mission of leveling the playing field and making sure that talent today has access to opportunities that are the right fit for them. So Tallo we’re a connection platform. We started with two high schools and 150 students with a mission to change the landscape of what early talent development looked like and how people find jobs.

Jennifer Kolb:

So we’re recruiting platform mimicking the athletic recruiting model. There’s long story that goes with that, but just know that our CEO was an athlete and played football at Purdue. And he said, “This athletic recruiting model, there’s something to it. Let’s take it into the world of work.” So everybody with all sorts of skills and abilities can find the right information about the right job that’s the right fit for them.

Jennifer Kolb:

So today we are in all 50 states. We have close to 2 million users on our platform. We represent over 29,000 high schools, over 4,500 colleges. We have over 200,000 hiring employers on Tallo. So if you’re joining us today and we haven’t met, I’d love to get to know you a little bit. And AJ, I’m just so excited to be on the panel and a huge thank you to InEight for hosting, because I think right now is the most critical time for employers to be building interest in their industry and investing in the development of the future workforce. So thank you so much, excited to be here.

AJ Waters:

We’re excited to have you Jennifer, and also Bonnie, excited to have you here.

Bonnie Shuda:

All right. Thanks AJ. Hi everyone. My name is Bonnie Shuda and I am the Director of Engineering Scholar Programs for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Engineering, kind of a mouthful there. Actually Jennifer gave me the perfect leeway because she talked about folks investing in talent and leaders. And that’s actually where my job came from. So as the director of scholar programs I work with two large programs at the university within the college of engineering that are brand new to us of folks seeing a need and wanting to invest in talent.

Bonnie Shuda:

One’s called the Peter Kiewit Foundation, it’s for the advancement of women in engineering. And then the other one, a little bit more apropos to today is called Kiewit Scholars. And that is funded by current Kiewit executives, which I really think speaks to the need that, of course we all know, that’s why you are here right now, to really develop students and leaders. And so that program is a big focus of mine. They have 10 students in it every year. Of course, they have tons of financial benefits, but truly it’s to develop these students in the construction industry at large.

Bonnie Shuda:

So they aren’t necessarily always construction management or engineering, but they’re getting all of this hands on experience with Kiewit the company, which of course is very vast. And it really just opens the eyes of possibilities for students in construction and they just get a lot of industry exposure and maybe it’ll come up a little bit later, I’ll develop a little bit more on that. But prior to that, my role in the college was in engineering career services. So I’ve seen the other side of it a little bit as well, working both with students one-on-one and in groups teaching courses, career classes for students, helping them really understand the opportunities that are available for them.

Bonnie Shuda:

We know folks sometimes go into engineering or construction because they like math or science and they want to build things. And so they only think mechanical engineering and we really need to help broaden that for students. And sometimes it happens when they’re already here in school and we can help coach them. Sometimes it happens beforehand, of course, which is really important as well. And then on the flip side of that, I also worked a lot with industry. And so I know from the many emails that were in my inbox, there are a lot of construction companies that want to hire our students.

Bonnie Shuda:

And so that’s my background a little bit is helping develop those non-technical skills in students, and then just help broadening possibilities. So I’m really excited to join you all here today too. Thanks AJ.

AJ Waters:

Yeah. And it’s really neat to see because what people may or may not have realized out of those intros is we’ve got a focus area on the craft and we’ve got a focus area on the staff. Because construction really is made up of two different labor pools when you’re out there on the job site. So that’s really cool. And my name’s AJ Waters. I’m the Vice President of Industry Solutions here at InEight. My role is just to moderate and maybe chime in a bit around how technology can help.

AJ Waters:

At InEight we’re doing some things to try to streamline workflows, get more time on tools, but also revolutionize the way people work. And so that could be intriguing to new hires coming to a place that’s maybe moved on from some of the old ways of doing work. I also am a graduate of the University of Nebraska so there’s a little tie in there. Go Huskers. And so it’ll be a good group here today.

AJ Waters:

So our ground rules or housekeeping rules for the webinar, sit back and relax, enjoy the talk, chat with us. We have a Q&A section there, so you can ask questions as we go. And then afterward we’ll have a little survey, feel free to leave us some feedback. We’d love to hear how we can get better in the future.

AJ Waters:

But let’s go ahead and let’s kick this discussion off. So one of the key things just to set the stage before we talk about winning the talent, maybe we need to talk a little bit about why it’s an issue to win talent. That’s because there’s a labor shortage in the industry. So why Jennifer do you think we’re seeing such a shortage in the construction industry?

Jennifer Kolb:

Yeah, not to start us off with some Debbie Downer stats, I know we’re going to get to solutioning, but I think we have to think of where we were as an economy, as a society, and what we were telling early talent, “Oh, I want to be a doctor. I want to be a lawyer. I want to be like Bob the builder.” There was not a lot of awareness, information about this industry. And not only that, I’m talking K5, middle school, early talent development information, but also now just looking at high school recruiting, there’s some stiff competition for this industry.

Jennifer Kolb:

You look at, you mentioned that AJ, the billions of dollars that are coming down in funding from the federal government, a lot of that is on IT, infrastructure, STEM. And while a lot of those skills are probably transferable into this industry, you’re not hearing that word construction and getting that open mindset of what that actually means. And that they’re even are four-year opportunities in that field.

Jennifer Kolb:

So I think a lot of it right now is just interest and awareness. And then one other really important part is diversity, females. I think of engineers today about 13% are women. So not only is there a shortage of information, but then also you’re only potentially looking at half the population. So I think it’s just a big awareness gap right now, AJ.

AJ Waters:

That’s a really good point. And I think we see some of the similar things with the degrees as Jennifer mentioned. Bonnie, do you see any other thoughts as to why maybe there’s a huge shortage of labor forces available for construction?

Bonnie Shuda:

Yeah, sure. Certainly what we see a lot in the college is some folks do come in straight away knowing that they want to do construction or engineering or management, whatever iteration of it, but a lot of our students actually transfer into it. And so that really kind of underlines Jen’s point earlier is that they don’t really understand exactly all of what it is or they weren’t being pushed toward it. And so sometimes when folks think construction, they maybe think of the trades, which obviously are wonderful to go into. But if someone’s wanting to get a four-year degree, they’re still thinking of the trades. So they don’t realize all the opportunities.

Bonnie Shuda:

And I know it’s kind of nebulous with the possibilities, but to say a quote from one of our construction professors who worked in the industry and then came here so he is professor of practice said that, “Running a construction site’s like running your own business.” And he loved that about that. And of course he could point to it and say, “I built that.” But that’s such a huge thing that folks don’t realize. And I think a lot of folks think, “Oh, I’m only going to be out in the field.” And some of them are going to be and they love that and that’s good for some people. Or they think they’re going to have to be shipped off with the jobs and some companies are like that.

Bonnie Shuda:

But there’s the other side of it that are maybe smaller companies or ones that are just structured differently. We have students here that will have an internship that really isn’t in the field. A lot of them do, but some of them are more like tech based and doing all that kind of stuff in the office. And so it can satisfy all those different kinds of needs or workplace values of folks and they just don’t realize that. And sometimes they realize what their workplace values are. And so just that awareness is important to kind of bring up and try to foster that in young folks.

AJ Waters:

Funny story, I transferred into it. I actually went to school to be a math teacher, ended up an engineer, so worked out. So what’s interesting this morning we were out on a job site visiting where InEight has been utilized. We were doing some interviews. And so I took the opportunity to kind of pull some people aside and say, “Hey, we’re doing this webinar later today. What are your thoughts?” And really I pulled two different people aside and they validated exactly what both of you just said. One of the gentlemen, the project manager on the job site, was talking about how construction it’s hard work. And people just aren’t told how fulfilling, how rewarding it could be the whole point at that and say, “I built it.”

AJ Waters:

We’re not being taught at a young age what skill with hands can really mean. And then the other guy that was out there, similar story about the middle schools and the high schools aren’t really saying, “There are opportunities in this industry of construction where you can go run your own small business, or you can go build some amazing projects.” Instead they’re pushing forward doctor, lawyer, four-year degree, whatever it might be and nothing wrong with those industries. But it’s something that everywhere you go road, building, the utilities that come to you, all of that was built. It was created by somebody. And so that’s how just massive this industry can be and how quickly it gets ignored.

AJ Waters:

But regardless of whatever these reasons might be the real issue that owners and contractors are facing right now is the attempts to hire new professionals and bring them on board. So maybe to start off with you, Jennifer, in some research that Tallo’s been doing, what are some of the current trends that you’re seeing in today’s generation and how they want to be approached by companies that are looking to win that top talent?

Jennifer Kolb:

Yeah. So since we have such a large network of early talent, we are often asking, “What are you looking for in an employer? Who do you want to work for? When are you making these decisions? How do you anticipate them reaching out to you to recruit you and tell you about opportunities?” They’re all here. They practically came out of the womb looking at an iPhone or an iPad or some kind of tablet.

Jennifer Kolb:

So we have to understand first, I think AJ, that we’re recruiting a generation like no other. We’re recruiting a generation who has been inundated with digital content. They know how to see through the fluff. And they are looking for employers who they feel a sense of community to, who they feel like they’re a part of an initiative. I think what you and Bonnie said of, “Oh, I built that.” Just having those discussions will change the pace.

Jennifer Kolb:

And then how do you do that? So data I’ve got it here. So I don’t want to mess up the numbers, but a couple things to keep in mind. I don’t bring up the phone or the technology to scare you. Don’t worry you don’t need to be on TikTok. They told us you don’t have to be there. So gen Z has told us, and this is just for the construction industry. This is students who are interested already in these fields. So not holistically but they’re looking to these career paths. How do you go to research future employers? 84% said Google, 81% said your company website and 60% said a professional site, like a Tallo or a LinkedIn.

Jennifer Kolb:

So just keep that in mind when you’re working to build your brand. Another important thing is 81% said they strongly agree it’s important to connect with a future employer, even if they don’t have an immediate job opening. So what that tells us is invest even if you’re not ready to hire. Sponsor that local baseball team, sponsor the soccer team, make sure your brand is out there and they know who you are. And if there’s opportunities for connection or meeting people or spending time networking, that will make a huge impact.

Jennifer Kolb:

And also keep in mind, they’re never too young. So 41% said that they’re deciding by their senior year of high school. Now I know we talked about transitioning, but they’re already paying attention to the brands and the employers that reach out to them early. So you want to make sure you’re one of those. And it could be a huge investment or a really simple investment, but don’t shy away from having those conversations with young people as they’re thinking about their future.

AJ Waters:

And Jennifer, these numbers are specifically slated to folks interested in construction, right? So when you say these high schoolers know by their senior year kind of where they want to go, who they want to work for, that’s when they’re going straight into the trades and they’ve aligned that so far. Right?

Jennifer Kolb:

Yep, exactly. And so we’ll see some differences amongst different industries. Another thing that I think is really interesting is about 42% of that talent say that they plan to stay at their first employer for three years or longer. So not only is it important just to give back, to build the culture, and build your brand in your community, but also you can think of it as an investment. An investment that will potentially pay off in spades.

AJ Waters:

Yeah. And we’ll get to retaining those folks here in a little bit. Bonnie, what about those who are heading off to college and maybe they’re like me that they end up transferring in versus just knowing right out of the gate, that’s what they want to do. What are companies doing to try to attract talent that might be early or upfront in the college career?

Bonnie Shuda:

Yeah, absolutely. The earlier is kind of the key word here, which you just heard the earlier, the better, especially with these folks that are so sought after. I know traditionally if you are recruiting college folks for entry level jobs or internships or what have you, for internships you’re originally like, “Oh, juniors, they have skills.” Or, “Seniors are thinking about maybe in February, March time, because then you know what kinds of projects you’re going to have and how many staff you’re going to need.” We are finding that the folks who are successful are just doing it a little bit earlier.

Bonnie Shuda:

So for example, looking for interns, we certainly see construction companies hire freshmen, which are 18 and 19-year-olds and perhaps they don’t have any of the skills yet. And maybe they’ve taken a class related to their major so far in college, but we know they have the aptitude, because they were let into the college.

Bonnie Shuda:

So that’s what you need to build on in your company. And that’s how you get that talent and then have them grow with you year-to-year. And so that’s something that we see the companies who are open to younger students that are a little bit more green, see greater success in the long run. And additionally, on that earlier timeline, we also see that recruiting for these fields traditionally happens now nine months ahead of time. And so it’s that fall career fairs and those very typical large recruitment type events at universities that folks are getting their internships for the next summer.

Bonnie Shuda:

And so if you’re waiting to see what projects you have up until February or March time, you probably miss the boat on some of the more competitive candidates perhaps. And in addition to that, we also see that students do well when there is a nice, transparent form of communication with employers. And so if a student interns with you, some employers of course would want them to keep interning with you. But we see some are really confident in what they can offer students and they’re like, “Great. If you want to intern at a different GC, that’s fine. We think you might come back here, but then you’ll have more skills.”

Bonnie Shuda:

And so being open to those kinds of things I think is also what just helps build that rapport and trust with students. And there are two other things I would say too kind of adjacent to this. Number one is if you are recruiting at a college level, be open to construction adjacent majors at least right now when we have such fewer construction folks. Some companies I know are like, “Oh no, we want construction management because that’s what I was. We want construction engineering.” But civil folks or mechanical folks might be open to those fields, especially if it is a large company. And they, again, would have a similar aptitude. They might need a little bit extra training in X, Y, Z, but they would still be really good employees in the long run.

Bonnie Shuda:

And then something that we’ve seen a lot too, especially if you’re looking for a greater gender diversity to Jennifer’s point earlier, is trying to frame talking about construction in the field as a helping field because it can be. AJ mentioned all this infrastructure and things, that’s all construction that helps people or heavy highway stuff that helps people, they have to drive to work. But typically folks don’t think about it that way. And so if you frame it as a helping field, we see stereotypically that you are going to maybe get folks from other different kinds of backgrounds and it’ll resonate with them the same way that healthcare would’ve before, because they want to help people. So sometimes you need to articulate that because they just haven’t put two and two together before.

AJ Waters:

Yeah. That goes back to the whole, everything around you has been created by someone’s hands. And so think of all the people that you’re helping when you put that bridge over the road between the hospital and the parking garage so they don’t have to cross the busy street. Things like that. Jennifer, a question came in for Tallo. Are there any reports or any data that you’ve seen where expectations of students are being set at a certain level in regard to construction employment?

Jennifer Kolb:

Yeah. So there’s a lot of data out there. We’ve got a lot of data, especially ranked on employers in this field. So I’ll be happy if anybody emails me to send the data along, but a couple stats I can throw out. When they are considering a future employer and even if their answer here is still undecided, top expectations are things that are most important to them. 74% said it’s work-life balance, 63% said it’s job position or skill fit. And 61% said culture or work environment.

Jennifer Kolb:

So you see not in that is salary. And so we’re really seeing something different with this new generation where I think my generation older that might have been the driver. It’s the focus of putting the food on the table, but this generation is more culturally focused, feeling included, feeling that sense that they’re a part of something. And so I think that AJ is something for any employer in this space to be thinking of. Are you talking about that work-life balance? Are you talking about what it’s like day in and day out and not just focused on, “Hey, come work for us. Here’s the salary, here’s your benefits.” So they’re not as important to this generation.

AJ Waters:

Right. And one of the other things that we are noticing if I were to put my technology hat back on is a lot of times in high school, in college, they’re utilizing systems in classes, in shop that are more advanced. Then they may end up utilizing out in the field. And we use to use the analogy, “I’m at home, I’m the Jetsons. But when I go to work, I’m the Flintstones.” And it’s really hard to keep things rolling.

AJ Waters:

The other thing that is becoming ever more important is getting through those humps where people aren’t lugging around drawings all through the field and you’re more connected and you have instant feedback or instant access to answers like they’re used to in their everyday life.

AJ Waters:

Shifting gears now, just because we’re quickly running out of time, who would’ve thought, what about once you have one and you have this top talent, what can be done to develop, train, and then retain that new, highly skilled and diverse workforce? Jennifer, I think you might even have some data on those points.

Jennifer Kolb:

Yeah. I will say Tallo is really focused on helping you get talent in the door. And then we kind of pass the baton and say, “Okay, now you got to keep them happy.” But I’ve heard someone else use this analogy and I think it’s so important and Bonnie you even said it, you might pull students from other areas. It’s important collectively as an industry to say, “How we all growing the pie together?” Because this workforce shortage, especially in this industry, will not be solved by one employer. It’s going to take everybody coming together, not just to bring talent in, but to keep them in the industry.

Jennifer Kolb:

So if they do want to go to a competitor, if they do want to come somewhere else, make sure they’re leaving on good terms because they might circle back to you and they might circle back with new skills. And so, as you all grow the pie of that industry together, everybody’s slice is getting bigger instead of just one company out kicking their coverage. So I think it’s really just important to focus on relationships and rapport and connection, because we’re going to be here in this workforce shortage for a little while and you never know where your next employee or employer will be.

AJ Waters:

And going back to one of the things you mentioned earlier, the work -life balance, the cultural fit, investing in them as a person. Those are things that not only do they expect coming into the employer, but they will expect if that isn’t happening, if you put the big, shiny facade on when they showed up and then it didn’t live up to the billing, that could be something very quickly that leads to change. Bonnie, what about on your end? You get to interact with alumni now and then who have been in the industry a while. What are you hearing as far as retaining and developing that top talent?

Bonnie Shuda:

Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. One of the biggest values that I hear from folks is that they really like transparency from their employer. A lot of them want to see positive change. They want to be invested in as a person. And so even if it’s knowing if there’s not a clear growth structure, but being in those conversations or being challenged are things that young grads or folks that are recently getting hired really do value and they respond to very well. And so that’s one key thing.

Bonnie Shuda:

The next thing I would say is having other ways to plug in, depending on the size of your company. I know some companies are able to have affinity groups. So again, going to back to gender diversity, if there’s a women in construction group at your company or something like that, we hear that folks really find that extra niche community when they need it, especially if they’ve been historically underrepresented in the field, that there are thought possibilities or other peers and stuff. And so if you haven’t developed those kinds of things at your company, even if they’re smaller ad hoc things that helps these folks really feel seen and then want to stay and invest in your company too.

Jennifer Kolb:

Yeah. I think that’s a good point. And AJ one other stat we know, so with our users we know where they’re located too. And I think it’s really interesting that for this industry, the stat is 9% lower than a normal or competitive industry that talent wants to stay where they’re at.

Jennifer Kolb:

So as an employer, thinking about how can you take your employees and get them invested in the local community, because I’m sure you guys have seen different states are giving out incentives to move like, “Here’s $10,000 if you come to Tulsa, Oklahoma right now.” So it’s good for your industry that there’s a lower rate of migration. They want to stay put, they want to stay where they’re at, but just make sure that the incentives are there to keep them in their hometown.

AJ Waters:

That’s an excellent point as well. The whole keep them happy concept. And then the other thing that’s interesting when you talk about developing talent, the other piece of this labor shortage that we really haven’t touched on much is the workforce that’s kind of walking out the door because it’s their time to walk out. They’ve done what they came to do and now they’re retiring or they’re kind of passing that baton.

AJ Waters:

And when that knowledge walks out the door, it’s really hard to let that go. And that’s kind of one of the other places where technology can kind of slide in and the better that you’ve tracked, normalized, and standardized your data, the more of that knowledge transfer can happen through just organically.

Bonnie Shuda:

AJ, I’m not sure if you can hear us. I don’t think you can hear us, we have a frozen screen.

Jennifer Kolb:

Until he comes back I will piggyback off of that. I think with the talent migration and considering who is on the way out the door because of retiring or exiting workforce, it is really interesting the companies that are setting up mentorship programs and keeping that senior talent on board in the traditional sense of consulting capacity, but just to be that one-on-one back and forth with a brand new first time job employee.

Jennifer Kolb:

And I think there’s definitely technology that can support that mentorship and it also helps with your branding and them feeling connected and invested. So if you are an employer that has a large exiting group of talent, I would highly encourage building or setting up some one-on-one mentorship opportunities for your new wave of incoming talent.

Bonnie Shuda:

Yeah. That’s such a good point. Even in our Kiewit Scholars program which is pretty new and fresh, we’re already coaching the students so they can start identifying mentors in their first internships with Kiewit so they can have those relationships for a long time, like you said, for knowledge transfer. And I mean, I know the age gap there is probably pretty big, but never hurts to start early.

Jennifer Kolb:

Right. We can all learn something from someone. I know I think about just along the way the mentors I’ve had, even the one liners that still resonate years later. So I think it’s really accurate.

Bonnie Shuda:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely agree.

Jennifer Kolb:

We’ll see if AJ comes back online and joins us here. I don’t want to wrap us up prematurely, but I think we are right at our time.

Bonnie Shuda:

Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Well, in the meantime, I can tell you all where you can find a little bit more about Kiewit Scholars. Go to unl.edu/kiewitscholars or if you just Google Kiewit Scholars UNL, it’s always my shortcut. Use Google, like Jennifer said, that’s where all the people are going to find their jobs. That’s how you find my website. And you can learn more about this program and other ways to get connected in our college. And if you want to recruit our students, I’d be very happy to connect you to our career team, which is near and dear to my heart since I used to work on it.

Jennifer Kolb:

Yeah. Yeah. And if you’re curious to learn more about Tallo and how we can help you recruit and build your brand within a new generation, you can also go to our website tallo.com and please LinkedIn me and I know AJ and Ashley and team can send out my email address, Jennifer@tallo.com. I would certainly love to connect with all of you. So thanks for your time. Great to see you, Bonnie.

Bonnie Shuda:

Thank you.