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Millennials in Construction

Group of architects correcting a construction plan in the office.

By now, most of the construction companies in the US are hiring and training Millennials (born 1981-1993). Many of you are finding that they are different from the folks from the Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) who likely started or helped start your companies and different from the Boomers (born1946-1964) or the Gen X (born 1965-1979) folks that we have written about who are now undergoing a “shift change” in the industry as they approach retirement age.

A recent article in Builder Online by John McManus entitled Not the Last Word on Millennials takes a look at the outlook for 2019 and explains that there is pent up demand for household starts in the millennium generation who are living at home and waiting until later to start families and move into their own homes. The article looks at 2019 from a residential perspective, and McManus states that there is “pent up demand” from a pool of Millennials that could account for 2.2 million new household formations and drive demand for new housing units. That being said, he thinks that 2019 will be a good year for residential construction.

McManus uses two studies to build his case. First the Wells Fargo Securities/LEK study entitled Navigating Volatility in the US Residential Construction Sector and a recent PEW Study entitled Millennial Life, How Young Adulthood Today Compares With Prior Generations. Both studies merit a reading and digesting by those of you who are wrestling with the “Shift Change” in the industry, and who are wondering what makes the different generations, and they are truly different, tick so that you can help them in their construction careers.

The Wells Fargo/LEK study is valuable in that it compares the different generations and illustrates the cycles of the economy and how that might impact our current cycle of growth since the 2007-2009 recession that devastated the construction labor force and changed the way we do business today.

For those of you who do not track the generational differences, now that you have about figured out how to integrate the Millennials into your business in a productive way, get ready for a pleasant surprise. Generation Z is about to enter the workforce and they hold the promise of moving your businesses to the next level just in time for this cycle to “drop into the trough.”

Look these studies over, and I think that you will find positive value from them. If nothing else, maybe you will learn how to deal with the generational differences on a day to day basis on your current jobsites.

Kollaer, Jim. February 21, 2019. Used with permission from Construction Citizen.


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