Career-Tracking Teens into Construction?

February 11, 2019 Karli Langner

It’s no secret that there’s a years-long labor shortage in the construction industry. And it’s got some legislators and construction industry leaders thinking creatively—albeit not exactly “out of the box”—when it comes to locating and training a cohort of new construction industry workers.

To address the labor crunch, some construction industry leaders are discussing possible changes to state regulations that ban teens from working on construction sites. While many industries—health care, farms and even many factories—allow minors onsite, minors under 18 are often not permitted on construction projects or in mines, quarries or logging operations, among others.

Construction is one of many industries that recognizes the need to do a better job of providing technical career exposure to young people. Of note in the moving-teens-into-construction-careers discussion:

  • Federal Department of Labor regulations ban 14- and 15-year-olds from construction, but leave the door open to older teens.
  • Some leaders are looking to the State of Minnesota, whose law permits teens ages 16 and 17 to work in a variety of fields, often through formal apprenticeships and dual credit programs.
  • The construction industry understands it would need to implement restrictions to ensure teen safety, for example keeping teens away from some of the more injury-prone jobs, certain types of equipment, etc.
  • Ultimately, any teen programs would need to be designed to educate and expose teens to the job site and get them interested in construction as a lifelong career track, rather than simply being another summer job or make-work internship.

Is a younger construction industry cohort imminent? Maybe. There’s no legislation currently pending to lower the age limit to work on construction sites. And it’s not even clear legislation to change laws is required—on a state-by-state basis. But it’s a given that the construction industry, government, and ambitious, interested young adults could make this alliance work, given the right circumstances and impetus.

Since the construction industry has a major labor shortage, what do you think of hiring teenagers to fill the gaps? Command Alkon provides tools that automate manual processes to improve productivity, helping to fill some of the time lag caused by a lack of workers in certain areas.

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