An Inside Look at Millennials in Construction

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Millennials in Construction

2016 saw a major shift in the American workforce.

Millennials (ages 20-36 in 2017) are now the nation’s largest living generation, surpassing baby boomers (ages 53-71).

While Generation X (ages 37-52) has stagnated over time, the Millennial generation has exploded into the workforce, bringing changes along with them.

This may be a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask.

But the big question is, what does this mean for the construction industry?

What’s a Millennial?

What exactly makes one a ‘millennial’?

Demographers and researchers give a wide range of years, although the majority see the start of the generation between around 1980, with the end being between 1997 and 2001.

However, age alone cannot define a generation.

When grouping and labeling our country’s generations, looking at commonalities is helpful.


As noted in scholarly research, the Millennial is looking for:

  • Meaningful work (aligned with morals)
  • Frequent, immediate feedback.

Millennials are also more:

  • Technologically connected, and
  • More apt to look for tech-based solutions to problems.


Numerous studies, including the book Generation Me by Jean Twenge, have asserted that Millennials have a higher level of narcissism (hard to argue against with terms like ‘selfie’) and entitlement.


It’s not all bad though!


Twenge also noted that Millennials – particularly younger ones who have come of age during the recession – are seeking practicality and steady work.

This signals a shift more towards fields like engineering, architecture, manufacturing, and construction.

Millennials also seek open-minded and diverse workplaces; seeking a career that aligns with their passions, ethics, and values.

millennials in construction

Millennials in the Construction Industry

Despite the explosion of millennials in the workforce, construction hasn’t seen a massive shift.

According to a recent study, the segment of construction workers between the ages of 20 and 24 has actually dropped.

In 2005, it was

Despite the explosion of millennials in the workforce, construction hasn’t seen a massive shift.

According to a recent study, the segment of construction workers between the ages of 20 and 24 has dropped.

In 2005, it was 11%. Just one decade later – in 2015 – that number shrunk to 7%.

At the same time, boomers are starting to swell the workforce towards the backend. During that same

During that same aforementioned ten year-span, the number of workers age 55 and older rose from 11% to 20%.

With many boomers aiming to retire in the next decade, this can lead to a massive skill shortage, if not addressed.

What Should We Do?


The construction industry needs to start pushing for more Millennials, making a concentrated effort to hire younger talent.

Training new laborers and specialists take time.

Waiting to incorporate them into the construction industry could lead to a skills gap, with the older generation retiring and the new one not quite up to speed.

This, in turn, could lead to decreasing revenues.

Many are curious if emerging technologies can make up for this, but only time will tell.

Shaping the Construction Industry


There are pros and cons of the newest majority generation getting involved in the construction industry.

Both on the job site or in the office, they will be more integrated with technology. They are more apt to be innovative.

This can work both ways; a high-level of technological and social integration can breed distraction.

However, it can also create faster, more efficient ways of completing tasks.





It can also help a company grow, although the growth may leave the older generation feeling left behind. This is the case in many industries already.

This is the case in many industries already.

It is a delicate balance, but for some companies, the Millennials ability to determine innovative solutions to complex problems could be the best way to leap forward.

Knocking Millennials


One of the numerous knocks on the Millennial generation is that they are not loyal, hopping from job to job.

However, a recent Pew Research Center study found that Millennials job-hop about the same as Generation X employees did when they were the same age.

On top of that, a CNBC poll indicated that Millennials are simply looking for stability, including annual raises and upward career mobility.

In fact, 77% of respondents said they would be willing to take a salary cut in exchange for long-term job security.


What does that mean for the construction industry?


Well, it means that there is a simple way to keep Millennials – show them options for a long-term career and invest in training and mentorship.

They have shown a desire to be loyal, but not without it being reciprocal.

Millennials are also changing the way that the construction industry attracts new laborers.

With the embracing of technology, many Millennials use the internet as their sole tool for searching employment opportunities.

Having a presence on social media is an easy way to recruit Millennials, as they spend a large amount of time there.

Job posts can be shared and their reach amplified at no cost.

Job sites ranging from Indeed to LinkedIn – and everything in between – can promote your openings where they will be seen by the younger generation.

Just this past week Google announced a new job search feature.

This will allow those looking for employment to search the most popular job boards without leaving Google.

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Achieving a Work-Life Balance

More than ever, Millennials are pushing for a healthy work-life balance in the workplace.

With some construction projects requiring longer days on site, or lengthy travel, companies need to take this into account.

While half-days and other flexible hours may not work well in the construction industry, there are other ways to allow for a healthy work/life balance.

On top of vacation and personal time, offer opportunities for professional or personal development.

If you are innovative yourself, consider offering a paid sabbatical.

You may be surprised to find that employees use this opportunity to learn further skills that are applicable to your company.

Ultimately, everyone benefits.


It’s clear that the Millennial generation will be a change for the construction industry; one that will shape it for years to come.

As individual businesses, it is up to you just how drastic this is, and where it leads.

It’s unavoidable, but it can certainly lead to unprecedented development and growth.

The key is to embrace the change and get in front of it, as opposed to resisting it.


What is your experience with hiring Millennials? 

Join the conversation on social media.

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