Workforce Crisis: Weighing Effectiveness, Options For Recruiting Labor

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | September 2008 Vol. 63 No. 9

"We experienced various levels of success with each of these methods," says Banning. "We are currently evaluating the benefits of an award-based referral system. In some parts of the country, we are able to count on the various local unions to provide us with quality employees. As a union contractor, our employees enjoy good wages and a benefit package that includes health care and a pension."

Banning believes it is time for the industry through associations, union relationships and other venues to invest in promoting and advertising the benefits and rewarding experience one can achieve in the construction industry.

"Attracting young professionals to the construction industry is very challenging," he continues. "Construction can provide a very satisfying career to the younger generation. However, our ability to showcase the innovation, technology and sophisticated computer applications hinder our ability to attract the next generation. It is imperative that we have an ability to show young students that our industry can provide rewarding careers centered around building a tangible infrastructure to support the growth."

Foreign labor

Many construction companies have turned to foreign labor to supplement its workforce.

"The regulatory requirements within the pipeline construction industry create some challenges to this alternative due to language barriers that exist today,” Banning says. "Many contractors are investing in training programs that will help us overcome these challenges and begin opening up opportunities for foreign workers.

Some contractors have said a high number of job candidates cannot pass drug tests.

"We do not feel that the DOT regulation for drug testing has limited our ability to attract or retain quality employees to our company," Banning says. "Roughly 5 percent of all job applicants fail our pre employment drug screen. Rarely do we find that an extremely qualified, potential new hire fails the test, and we believe the resulting drug free workplace leads to a safer, quality minded and productive workforce."

While the aging workforce is cited by several trades as a serious issue, it is not now a problem for the industries served by Miller Pipeline, says Banning.

For equipment operators, Miller Pipeline's preference is to hire new workers with experience.