March 26, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Department of Construction Science and ManagementWebsite
Mike Jackson Ph.D.: I have observed that the construction industry, especially in the south, adapted to the pandemic much better than most other industries. I believe this is a direct result of the general optimism and problem solving skills of a great majority of the leaders in this industry. Faced with a new challenge at the onset of the pandemic, this enduring group of problem solvers found practical and safe ways to continue to build and manage one of the largest workforces in our society. This is exactly what was needed during what seemed to be a scary situation, and is what we have come to expect from the formidable leaders of the construction industry. It is worth noting that many valuable lessons were learned as a result of facing this global challenge. The industry is now far better prepared to communicate more efficiently using modern technology going forward. Supply chain vulnerabilities have been revealed, to be solved through vertical integration and other creative contracting mechanisms. Job site safety and personnel management systems have also advanced. I believe the construction job market will continue to be strong in the wake of the pandemic, and working conditions will continue to improve as a result of the systems put into practice during this challenge. This is the best of times to be entering the construction workforce.
Mike Jackson Ph.D.: I believe construction is a business of communications. Construction professionals have to interpret complex information and transform abstract ideas into tangible products. Thus, the number one technical skill necessary for success in construction is excellent communication skills, both receiving and delivering accurate and relevant information. The ability to learn and make use of modern technology in such communications is now even more valuable to employers. Of course skilled trades worker must also be excellent at their craft as well
Mike Jackson Ph.D.: Salaries continue to rise, and as we embark on the looming inflationary period in our economy, I expect construction salaries to continue to rise. This is a real concern for our economy, in general, but appears to be inevitable as a result of continued unbridled deficit spending by our government. With a shortage of Construction professionals, the anticipated mass retirement of the baby boomer generation, and looming inflation, there will be significant pressure for higher salaries for construction professionals. Unfortunately this does not necessarily translate into greater buying power for the individual, as increases in the costs for goods and services, and taxes, will likely outpace personal income.