Skilled labor shortage: Taking control to mitigate your risks

Brian Newberry - VP, Brand Leadership

How short-handed industries are taking the long view.

A 2015 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America revealed that nearly 80% of construction businesses are having a hard time finding qualified skilled labor. Older generations of craftsmen are aging out of the workforce, and younger generations are slow to enter in their place. The resulting labor gap has obvious ramifications for builders, construction companies and engineering firms: curtailing building projects, rising housing costs and slower growth of local and national economies. As a problem that only stands to deepen, it’s bound to have wide-ranging implications for building supply and home improvement brands.

The shortage of skilled craftsmen poses challenges at each stage of the consumer decision journey. For example, a front-entry door brand requires skilled craftsmen during both production and installation. A shortage of fabricators could negatively affect production and product availability, customization, pricing and quality. A shortage of qualified contractors to perform installation can result in projects costing more and taking longer to schedule and to complete.

To mitigate your risks associated with this shortage of skilled workers, Hart recommends home products and building materials brands take matters into their own hands.

Follow the lead of luxury brands.

Fashion and luxury brands have addressed their shortage of craftsmen by establishing company-run education centers. Brands like Berluti, Loewe and Brunello Cucinelli have in-house schools that teach the next generation of artisans.

At the other end of the spectrum, as metalworking businesses and global machining companies grow, they’ve done the same. Many are developing education programs to recruit for new positions and replace highly skilled workers as they retire.

In the construction industry, our client SWACCA has established a training and apprenticeship program to create a path for the next generation of skilled trade workers. Check it out:


Think DIY rather than DIFM.

With the scarcity of qualified contractors, forward-thinking brands are looking to make the repair or installation process as easy as possible. Consider the technical literacy of your customers and focus on products and communications for those who aspire to be handy at home. Fortunately, technology and innovation make this a lot easier.

According to a Google consumer survey, 67% of millennials say they can find a YouTube video to learn anything they want. Millennials are also heavy users of social media and apps for DIY projects. Home products brands can create differentiation and brand loyalty by offering easy-to-understand and intuitive instructions, how-to videos, DIY content on social media and apps that provide guidance throughout the project process.

Contact us to identify the solutions that will enable your business to address this issue head-on:

Sharon Stemen
Manager, New Business Development
419.893.9600 Ext. 161