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The Market

In 2017 the construction industry annual revenue was $400 billion.  Each construction project could have 50+ different trades involved in it.  Within those 50+ trades there can be 1-10 tradesmen involved per trade. Currently the prevalent way to source & recruit these tradesmen & crews is by using existing connections & networks.  This can be limiting in several ways in any industry. Whether it is sourcing enough crews to get current projects done, replacing a crew, or scaling up and expand the business; companies have no place to go to look for tradesmen outside their own known networks.   

The Problem

The major problem constricting the productivity of the construction industry is the ability to source skilled tradesmen in a timely fashion, and then match them with the right project. Due to this problem, construction firms of all trades, shapes, and sizes are experiencing daily challenges that lead to slipped deadlines, poor work quality, and cost overruns. Each contributes to margin erosion and a negative professional reputation.

Statistics show there are plenty of available projects and  available tradesmen talent across the USA. A recent survey conducted in 2017 by the Associated General Contractors of America reported that 70% of construction firms are having difficulty sourcing labor for projects.  Another report conducted by BlueCollarJobs.com in 2017, found there are 3 times as many construction workers available per job opening than any other industry. These findings,suggest that a major “connection” gap exists between employers and tradesmen.  Since word of mouth and referrals from relatively small personal networks are the industry’s primary methods for sourcing labor; each construction firm’s production capacity is thereby limited by the size of direct networks. Unless the construction firm places a priority on labor networking, (which hardly any of them do), their reach out capacity is significantly constrained. To make matters worse, the construction industry as a whole, has not kept pace with evolving management practices and new technologies. They continue to brute force their way through these industry endemic challenges.

The prolonged labor sourcing process often causes project delays or forces construction firms to perform at artificially low production capacities. This causes  new work to be turned down, or not even being bid on. As a result, crews of construction firms resort to hiring tradesmen with skill and experience deficiencies.  Not having the right tradesmen on the right project at the right time almost always leads to undesired outcomes.

From the lens of the tradesmen, it’s challenging to keep one’s pipeline of work full because they spend most of their day (9-12 hours) actually doing their job. Other than their own word of mouth, the tradesmen have no place to showcase their capabilities, or to market themselves to other construction firms. Like construction firms, tradesmen are only aware of work (projects) available by their direct network (word of mouth or direct referral). This often creates  situations where the tradesman is significantly over/under booked causing inconsistent income, and stress of continually having to find their next job.

This dilemma leads to gaps in availability where crews are left on standby, projects on hold, and no hammers hitting walls.  A reminder that approximately 26,195,000 projects got completed last year by pure operational muscle and word of mouth being the primary method for labor sourcing. As an industry, construction is leaving billions of dollars of lost revenue on the table purely because of insufficient professional networking and difficulty sourcing skilled labor.  There is a better way!

The Solution

ToolBelt is a recruiting  website & mobile application built for the construction industry’s project driven demands.  ToolBelt’s goal is to connect construction companies and tradesmen. Companies have projects they need done, but are limited to the labor they can find within their own network.  On the other side, tradesmen are limited to the projects they can find within their own network. ToolBelt aims to connect the industry together in a mutually beneficial way. Companies can list a project they need completed and have tradesmen apply to them or find available tradesmen through their profiles.  Tradesmen profiles will contain a portfolio of past work to market themselves for potential employers.

 

The Difference

Over the last decade, corporate  staffing processes have become entirely digital.  In fact, the internet has become the most universal resource for sourcing and securing talent in the United States. Employers and job candidates alike, have experienced rapid efficiency gains in time, energy and cost. Positions are posted with specific job specifications and experience requirements. Candidates then respond based on their qualifications, capabilities, and potential fit. Through each phase of the staffing process, (sourcing, attracting, screening, evaluating, and hiring) online tools have made things drastically more accessible and easier.  A recent survey by PEW Research Center indicated that 90% of recent job seekers have researched jobs online, and 84% of those have applied for a job online.

However, these current solutions do not fit the dynamic labor force challenges and project based nature of the construction industry. For example, the current job boards and websites, (Indeed, Monster, Ziprecruiter, LinkedIn, etc.), are built for filling longer term, more stable, “career based” positions such as  engineers, accountants, technical professionals, and administrators. Other job boards such as Angie’s List and Home Advisor exist as lead generation platforms for construction professionals to link end-user customers (Homeowners) in their local area. Requested work ranges from home repair to landscaping. Lead generation platforms help construction firms find potential projects, such as a substantial remodels, but they don’t assist the firm in finding skilled tradesmen or subcontractors to address  their staffing needs.

The construction industry operates under a different set of conditions than other industries, both from a labor sourcing, and retention stand point. First, it is project vs. position based. Jobs have a defined start and end point, and are performed along a critical path of logically sequenced activities. Second, work can be spread out at multiple site locations, either as part of a crew dividing up similar work (roofing, siding, flooring, etc.), or as a solo provider performing unique tasks such as a electrical, piping, or finished carpentry. Third, once a particular project is completed, contractors and tradesmen move on to new work either together or separately, assuming the new work is known, available, and accessible. This creates a feast or famine aspect to construction type work.

A long overdue solution to address the industry’s sourcing and retaining labor challenges is implementing online staffing tools that are easily understood, used, and directly relevant to daily work of contractors and tradesmen. ToolBelt is an online network that allows project seeking tradesmen and hiring construction firms to connect quickly and effectively. By connecting tradesmen to construction firms in one easy to use website and mobile app, ToolBelt solves construction firms’ primary and lingering problem, continuously having to source and vet labor.  It is a one-stop location for construction firms to list projects, describe job specifications, communicate skill requirements, and sort through and validate potential candidates. Similarly, it is a place for tradesmen to look for existing and future projects, brand themselves via personal capability profiles, and to network with other construction professionals.

Unlike current job board  websites, ToolBelt is tailored specifically for the unique needs of the construction industry. It is designed for all parties to derive immediate value and expand existing construction related networks exponentially, thus releasing pent up productivity potential at both the firm and individual levels.

Industry Statistics

 

Special Thanks to CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, produced with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant number OH009762. For gathering this data & completing their Sixth edition of The Construction Chart Book.