In 2015, Hispanics made up a plurality of New York City construction jobs. Their 37.75% of New York City construction jobs demonstrates how crucial Hispanic workers are. The demographics of New York City are similar throughout the entire country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanics make up for 29% of all construction workers in the United States. For this reason, it is vital for construction companies to take steps to keep their current Hispanic workers, and attract more, in order to lessen the construction labor shortage.
Why are Hispanic Workers Leaving?
During the Great Recession of 2006-2011, the construction industry lost 40% of its workers. Not accidentally, during this time Hispanics were leaving the country in record numbers. A Pew Research report shows that during these years, Hispanics were leaving the country faster than they were entering.
A notable driving force in Hispanics leaving the construction industry is retirement. Many labor-intensive construction jobs see earlier retirement ages. This is leading to many Hispanic workers exiting the industry. In addition, companies have trouble filling these jobs because Hispanic youth have an overall lack of interest. The lack of interest is shared by a majority of American youth. They just don’t have an interest in traditional construction jobs. Overcoming the obstacle of attracting Millennials will continue to be an obstacle for construction companies.
Another cause that has many Hispanic workers leaving the industry is the current political climate in the U.S. President Donald Trump’s focus on strengthening deportation policies has led to fear among many Hispanic communities. Chad Blocker, partner at Fragomen Construction, commented, “There is a sense that some of the rhetoric coming out of Washington has created a general atmosphere of unease among foreign nationals in the U.S.” The result has been many Hispanic workers leaving the United States whenever they have a chance. This is because they see their stay in the U.S. under the current administration as having no guarantee.
What Can Companies Do to Attract Hispanic Workers?
In order to attract Hispanic workers, it is important for construction companies to create an atmosphere where Hispanic workers feel like valued employees. One way that construction companies could achieve this goal is to guarantee that construction supervisors will be bilingual. By having bilingual supervisors, Hispanic workers will not feel the pressure to have perfect their English in order to understand instructions about their jobs. Receiving instructions in Spanish would make numerous Hispanic workers more comfortable on the job and reduce the amount of mistakes that happen due to misunderstandings. This reduction of errors would greatly benefit construction companies which all tend to have a sizable amount of Hispanic workers.
Another step to ensuring that Hispanic workers feel valued would be establishing anti-discrimination policies. By establishing anti-discrimination policies, Hispanic workers will be confident in knowing that if they are discriminated against on the job, they can contact someone to resolve the issue.
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