With vacancies soaring across the construction industry, it’s tempting to point the finger in any number of directions: Boomers departing the workforce in droves, all-time-high quit rates, lack of training pathways and more.

Of course, pointing the finger is hardly going to move the needle where it counts.

At a moment when the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is expected to create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs annually, hitting a peak of roughly 300,000 new jobs in 2027 and 2028, it’s time to double down on specific factors that are within your control.

Here’s how to retain more high-value construction engineers.

go all-in for upskilling and reskilling

Looking ahead, the demand for two things, above all else, is set to climb astronomically within the construction workforce: technological skills and complex cognitive skills, by roughly 50 percent and 33 percent, respectively, according to analysts.

But where are you going to source the high-value, highly in-demand contributors who have them?

The answer, in part, should be: from your existing workforce, thanks to successful upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Not insignificantly, these are a proven method for turning the tide of attrition — a chronic scourge in this sector. And when nearly two-thirds of all employees say they would leave their jobs because of limited growth or training opportunities, this is the kind of thing you can’t afford to ignore.

The bottom line: So long as demand for workers with new skill sets continues to grow at a faster clip than the pool of available talent, upskilling and reskilling initiatives are going to be the most reliable and effective alternatives.

analyze salaries in your market

How do salaries at your company — not just for construction engineers, but for employees across the board — stack up against your competitors? Or perhaps the more meaningful question: How much will it cost to offset the cost of attrition?

For insights and answers, check out the latest salary guide from Randstad. It’ll help you optimize your compensation packages. And in the event that you know you don’t have the budget to nudge salaries northward, you should still think about opportunities for bonuses, particularly where mission-critical pros like your construction engineers are concerned.

dial in on culture

Closely allied to employer branding, “culture” might nonetheless seem to be an amorphous, ambiguous concept, so let’s try to make it more concrete, starting with the following four key recommendations in this department.

1. focus on the diversity of your workforce

Many groups, most notably women (9.9% of the construction workforce), Blacks (6.2%) and Asians (2%), continue to be underrepresented within the construction workforce. This is clearly a disadvantage for employers in the sector — beyond being the right thing to do, building more inclusive workforces is also an avenue to highly skilled talent. However, if you’re struggling to tackle issues like unconscious bias, or just finding it hard to tap into diverse pools of talent, know that strategic partners can help.

2. introduce opportunities for professional development

This dovetails with the point about upskilling and reskilling mentioned earlier. If employees don’t see clear opportunities for advancement, they aren’t going to stick around for very long. Bear in mind, too, that nearly nine out of 10 employees will engage in learning and development programs when presented with the opportunity, according to a recent survey. Under-utilization should be the last of your worries, in other words.

3. consider remote or hybrid work models

Sure, such models may be relatively new within the construction sector per se, but they’re increasingly what employees expect, given that around a quarter of all jobs on the continent of North America are expected to be fully remote by year’s end. So keep in mind that your employees are going to have this option elsewhere. If you aren’t offering it, someone else is.

4. emphasize work-life balance for employees

This is another thing that doesn’t get talked about enough in the construction sector, though it should. Are employees coming to work each day refreshed? Or are many perpetually on the cusp of burnout? If the latter, there are a lot of concerns that might come with that, not least of them safety. And if you aren’t sure about the answer ... Well, you probably should be. But consider using anonymous polls or surveys to gain clarity.

key takeaways

Engineering employers across the board face a host of challenges when it comes to successfully holding on to talent. Between emerging skills gaps, ongoing business disruptions and rapidly evolving needs, most HR teams are busy scrambling to put out fires — rather than making moves that will enable their organizations to more effectively navigate the future.

That’s where Randstad can help. Whether you need support retaining your most valuable employees or rounding out your workforce with temporary or permanent hires, we can deliver bottom-line value. Schedule a call with us to find out how today.