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how to retain great construction employees

Here’s are some statistics HR departments hate hearing…


  • Back in 2017, the National Center for Construction Education & Research projected we’d see 41% of the current workforce retire and it looks like they’ve been pretty spot on so far. 
  • Silvia Lattoz, Governance and Global Relations Senior Manager at NKBA, estimates that for every 5 construction employees leaving the workforce, only 1 is entering.
  • There’s been an increase of “blue collar stigma” in the past two decades with younger workers viewing construction jobs as ‘dirty’ or ‘basic’ despite the fact they are increasingly high-tech, projects are more dynamic, and pay/benefits are admirable. (This one’s our least favorite, btw.)

City with the average oldest construction workers?

Miami - Fort Lauderdale

  • Median age of construction workers: 45
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 16.4%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 35.0%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 182,224
of current workforce retired
of workforce retired
of current workforce projected to retire
Youngest of the Baby Boomer generation reaches Michigan's retirement age (67)
of the workforce projected to retire
Oldest Gen X'ers enter retirement age

3 ways to improve employee retention

While finding and hiring employees certainly presents its own challenges, we’re focusing on the most cost-efficient method: retaining and developing the workforce you already have. 

1. Added Responsibility

Hired employees for the uptick in summertime work? As with all entry-level positions, it’s likely they started with the more menial tasks. You can show them that their hardwork has paid off in terms of earning your trust by giving them responsibilities that allow them to grow. Encourage them to gain new skills. Provide ample continuing education opportunities. 

We’re lucky to have Abby – our incredible marketing intern – on the WMCI team. She quickly proved herself to be a self-starter with a keen eye for design. So, only a few months after being hired, she was given the responsibility of leading the layout design and aesthetic for the Fall 2022 Course Catalog.  

Abby Larabee shows off the WMCI course catalog she designed

The WMCI team recently celebrated a win by taking a field trip to 51 Bravo – a custom knife forge owned by our very own CORE instructor Shawn Moulenbelt!

2. Added Rewards

Sure, no one is going to complain about an extra bonus or pay increase. But employees are increasingly looking for benefits outside of being solely financial. 

Consider the following creative ideas:

3. Added professional development

We’re biased on this one, but the numbers don’t lie.

Organizations with a commitment to building a strong learning culture are 52% more productive, 56% more likely to be the first to market with their products and services, and 17% more profitable than their peers. Plus, their employee engagement and retention rates are also 30–50% higher.

In the first two semesters WMCI has been open, it’s been awesome to see this type of investment in employee growth made by dozens of the top West Michigan construction companies. You can tell it pays off by the look of pride on their faces when students graduate as NCCER certified construction professionals. 

Looking for a great place to start? 

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I love the challenge and the thrill of building something from the ground up. But more importantly I have a passion for getting students involved and excited about working in the t