Solving the Construction Labor Shortage Through Internship Opportunities
In February 2023, job openings in construction jumped by 129,000. However, despite the number of available jobs, the industry continues to have a labor shortage. This shortage is expected to continue into 2024, and it is estimated that 342,000 new workers will be needed to meet demand. As an older generation of construction workers retire from the field, companies are looking to a younger generation to fill vacancies.
Rockford has invested in our relationships with different colleges and universities, such as Northern Michigan University, Michigan State University and Ferris State University, understanding the opportunity a new generation of construction professionals provides to the industry as a whole. We have developed a robust internship program and attend several career fairs and conferences throughout the year. Rockford has historically offered full time roles to student interns, including superintendent KJ Godwin.
“My experience as an intern allowed me to learn about Rockford’s culture and the construction industry,” said Godwin, who accepted a position at Rockford in 2020 and has since moved into the superintendent position. “Rockford continues to allow me to explore areas of work that interest me and I know I have room for growth in my career here.” Investing in the futures of students not only benefits the individual, but it also benefits the company. A 2021 study found that those who are hired on following an internship, like Godwin, are more likely to stay with the organization.
Education project executive, Ed Bloom, has been with Rockford for 16 years, having also started his career with Rockford as an intern. In his time here, he has transitioned through several different roles, from intern to quality manager, superintendent, project manager, senior project manager, project executive for the retail team, to where he is today: project executive for education.
While each role has provided unique learning experiences, what he has found most invaluable to his career advancement was the hands-on experience Rockford offers. “Where I am today is from the day-to-day experience in the field, starting with my internship. It was a fantastic opportunity to put my learned skills to use while also gaining more knowledge,” said Bloom. He believes the wisdom he gained during that time was priceless and propelled him to where he is now in his career.
While the construction world looks different today than the one Bloom entered when beginning his career, internships continue to prove valuable to the construction industry. In some industries, as many as 40% of full-time team members come from a company’s internship program; at Rockford, several dozen interns have been brought on as full-time staff. As Rockford continues to refine the internship program, we have seen an increase in students hired post-graduation. For the good of students, Rockford, the industry, and for our communities, we will continue to proudly invest in the futures of the next generation of Builders of a Better World.