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Construction is an industry full of young people


This article originally appeared in our weekly newsletter the Construction Labor Weekly. Join thousands of construction profressionals and subscribe for free with just an email address by clicking here

When you think of construction workers, does the image of a fresh, young, wide-eyed rookie come to mind?


But that’s increasingly the case for the construction workforce. The impact is massive.

Conventional wisdom about the construction workforce is that’s full of old people and those old people will retire in the next decade and leave the industry without experienced people.

That demographic shift isn’t on the horizon. It’s here today and is in full swing.

You can see this in the numbers.

Here’s the average age of construction since 2012:

Average Age of Construction Workers


Did you expect to see the average age of construction workers has been on a declining trend since 2012. That’s probably not what you expected to see, is it?

Anecdotally you can see it on jobsites. Walk around and talk to people working on your jobsites and you’re sure to see fresh faces.


What does a younger workforce mean for the construction industry?

There’s good and news and bad news for this situation.

The good news is that a younger workforce is more resilient for the long term. The bad news is that a younger workforce needs more training.

It’s less experienced. Less experience means fewer “A” players and more opportunities for things to go wrong.

This inexperience shows up in the problems that arise on a jobsite daily.

Just do a quick review of the incidents and errors happening on jobsites today – many of them are rookie mistakes.

As the trend toward younger workers continues rookie mistakes will be increasing.

The challenge for companies is to be more proactive in onboarding and training employees. You’re dealing with a group of eager and willing employees who need more help than companies have had to give in recent years.


How does the age of the construction industry compare to other industries?

The BLS tracks the age of 13 major industries as well as many sub-industries.

This first graph compares the percentage of the workforce that is over the age of 55. The construction industry has the 4th lowest population of the 13 major industries.

Percentage of Construction Workers Over 55 Years Old


The second graph looks at the workforce in their prime working age of 35 to 44. Construction is the 2nd highest percentage of population for that age group of the 13 industries.

Construction Workers Between 35 and 44 Years Old



What a younger construction workforce means for the future

There’s no stopping this trend. Companies will need to re-think how they onboard and retain employees.

Companies can no longer assume that the workforce is showing up with the basics.

Keep the employees you’ve onboarded and trained. Prioritize culture and work environment on project sites. Become the employer that employees want to work for.

Start with re-evaluating onboarding and training programs. Most training plans that worked before won’t work anymore. Include more entry level, basic content.