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It’s no secret that the construction industry is in desperate need of more workers. Earlier this year, Associated Builders and Contractors found the industry will need to hire 650,000 more workers than the typical pace of hiring just to meet the demand for labor in 2022.

The United States veteran population offers a prime employment pool from which to hire these new workers. There are around 19 million veterans in the United States, with an estimated 200,000 Americans transitioning from the military each year. With some of Skanska’s leaders being veterans, the company is deeply familiar with the professional skills ingrained through military service and has experienced firsthand how those skills transfer seamlessly to the construction industry.

As companies grapple with how to address this unprecedented workforce shortage, here are three of the many benefits of recruiting veterans into construction jobs.

Adaptability

Life in the military is shaped by frequent and sometimes unexpected changes in direction, fostering deep-rooted adaptability among service members. From orders as significant as overseas deployments and domestic changes in duty station to everyday commands across a wide range of tasks and skill sets, mobility and flexibility are standard issues in any veteran’s lexicon.

That adaptable nature is vital in an industry as variable as construction. It is not simply that veterans are used to picking up and moving to different work locations (though indeed, former service members typically hold fewer reservations when assigned to new project sites; some may in fact jump at the chance to continue that itinerant lifestyle). More importantly, that central adaptability allows veterans to quickly and easily assimilate to a variety of circumstances. Former service members are fast learners and adept multi-taskers, conquering new assignments with poise and determination.

Veterans’ pronounced adaptability also begets crucial situational flexibility. On days when construction operations do not proceed as expected, former service members have the self-awareness to regroup and pivot to new solutions, calling on past field-level decisions to figure out a modified path forward.

Leadership

Veterans also return to civilian life with far-reaching leadership experience. The military provides an opportunity to engage with people from all different avenues; as active-duty service members rise through the ranks, that engagement grows into formal leadership. In that capacity, service members must act as supervisors and mentors, leading teams to successful completion of assignments while also supporting individuals in their own professional development. Strong leadership is critically important to construction crews, but not every applicant comes to the table with that experience, and even fewer are able to implement it well.

The leadership experience provided through military service further enables veterans to effectively manage new and stressful situations in the construction industry. Former service members are uniquely equipped to make decisions under pressure, safely and successfully coaching crews through even the most demanding days. That expert demonstration of leadership cultivates a deeper sense of trust between manager and crew, advancing a stronger cohesion across project teams.

Discipline

Veterans are renowned for their discipline, a quality that proves particularly valuable in the construction industry. When a manager brings on a veteran, they can essentially guarantee their employee will not only show up, but arrive on time and ready to work. Moreover, veterans are process-oriented, recognizing the importance of following proper procedure when carrying out an operation—a course of action that is paramount when operating on an active (and often dangerous) construction site. Veterans have also honed exceptional attention to detail, an asset that keeps construction projects on track and prevents careless mishaps. An added bonus: Jobsites managed by veterans will always be clean and carefully looked after.

For these reasons and many more, veterans offer a myriad of benefits to the construction industry. While technical skills can easily be taught, the adaptability, leadership, and discipline forged through military service are much more difficult to come by. Construction firms should make a concentrated effort to connect with Veterans, including engaging with service members prior to their transition out of the military. Our industry faces a drastic shortage of workers, and we can do so much more to reach this incredible population of potential employees.

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