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Generation Z Explores Careers in Construction 

Members of Generation Z, born from 1995 to 2010, are true digital natives. This group of young people were born “plugged in” with access to the internet and a jungle of social media platforms.

As Gen Zs enter high school and think about their futures, many have ample access to information about potential career pathways, salaries and the requirements of work. 

Internationally, Gen Z has surpassed millennials as the largest generation, making up 32% of the global population, reports Bloomberg. The oldest Gen Zs are 24 years old and currently make up a relatively small portion of the U.S. workforce (only 11.6% in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

As these young people begin to seek jobs, they will become as much of a driving force in our global economy as Millennials. 

One market that Gen Zers are eyeing for potential career opportunities is the construction industry. This would be welcome news to the U.S. construction industry, which is forecasting labor shortages in the years to come due to an aging workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a construction worker is 42.5 years old — Gen Zs could fill these labor and skills gaps in the years to come.

How to Recruit and Retain Gen Z 

Here are four things a Gen Z professional is looking for in their career. 

1. Technology

Many Gen Zs don’t know a world without smart phones, social media and the internet. Their knowledge of technology is integrated into their home life and educational upbringing. Gen Zs can influence how tech is used in a professional setting because it is viewed as essential, portable, and innovative. 

It is going to become increasingly important to continue bringing new technology into the construction industry to keep up with industry demand. With new, exciting, and up-to-date technology, especially in the areas of renewable energy, infrastructure changes and environmental concerns, Gen Z will become eager to join an industry that invests in integrating new machinery and technology into everyday jobs. In turn, Generation Z will use new tech to complete their work and remain efficient. 

2. Financial Security

Gen Z is worried about finances and being able to afford housing, healthcare and paying off debts (student loans, car loans, etc.). They were raised during the Great Recession (2008-2010) and have vivid memories of that economic downturn and its impact on their lives.  When surveyed, 46% of Gen Z say that their biggest financial concern is student debt. This is likely because the cost of a college degree has increased 102% in the past decade.

Careers in construction offer apprenticeship training for specific trades where students can earn a wage while learning hands-on skills. Apprenticeship and technical colleges offer construction skills without the same debt load as four-year-universities, an appealing benefit to Gen Z. 

3. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For Generation Z, diversity, equity and inclusion is not just preferred in a work environment; it is expected. According to Pew Research Center, Gen Z grew up as the most racially and ethnically diverseAmerican generation to date.

As the construction industry continues to encourage diversity, construction companies and construction trade unions hope Gen Zers will see the wide range of career opportunities available to Gen Zers, especially women and people of color. For the industry, it is going to become increasingly important to continue promoting diversity both internally and externally.  

4. Career Advancement

Raised by Gen X and Baby Boomers, members of Generation Z were taught the importance of independence, self-motivation and success. In turn, Gen Zers seek careers with opportunities to grow, manage and lead teams. 

As Boomers retire out of the construction industry, there is ample opportunity for career advancement and leadership positions available to Gen Zers.

For Generation Z, the construction industry offers opportunities for long-term stable careers. The industry itself is growing increasingly diverse and both companies and construction unions prioritize investment in learning and incorporating new technologies onto the jobsite. For Gen Zers concern with taking on debt through university, the construction industry offers a number of pathways to a career in the trades through trade schools, union apprenticeships, contract work and more. 

Start a Conversation

Do you know of a Gen Zer who is searching for career opportunities outside of a traditional four-year college experience or service in the military? Consider sharing the Construction Careers Foundation website with them. It offers information about careers in construction for young people, their parents, and educators. Start by exploring more than 30 of Minnesota’s construction trades here.