Millennials shunning construction jobs, local contractor says

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According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of millennials going into a career in construction has dropped 30%.

“I’m concerned and I feel like we should do more to recruit young people and to show that, in our high school programs, that there are a lot of good opportunities then, just following the college career path,” said Brent Johnson, President of Ringland-Johnson Construction.

Johnson says he noticed the downward trend during the housing market collapse a decade ago. Still, he says the field has a lot to offer.

“The construction trades are high paying, but I’m not sure, for whatever reason, millennials aren’t as attracted to working with their hands and their tools, even though it’s high pay,” Johnson said.

Johnson says the average age of his workers is 50 years old.

“I’m concerned that, as baby boomers retire, there won’t be enough of a workforce of women and men to construct our buildings in the future,” he said.

“It’s tough, because you see a lot of older guys working out there, but you don’t see many younger guys,” Caleb Bubnack, a millennial himself, said.

He thinks he knows why his peers aren’t joining him on the job site.

“I think they’re just not well informed about working in construction, where in high school you’re informed about going to college, and that’s your main choice after high school,” Bubnack said. “There’s different jobs in construction, so if you’re good with carpentry, you can go into carpentry, but if you like running machines, there’s an operator’s union, so there’s a lot of different areas to work in.”

“A lot of the millennials don’t know the benefits of construction careers and jobs,” Johnson said. “It’s more than just picking up a hammer or picking up trash. There’s a lot of technical work and thought and planning that goes into constructing a building.”

Rock Valley College does provide classes for people interested in pursuing a career in construction.

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