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5 Strategies to Recruit an Apprentice for Your Small Construction Business

The main challenge is to attract young people in the contractor industry. Here are key tips for finding the next generation of workers for your business.

3 mins readOctober 04, 2018

Recruiting a Construction Apprentice: First Steps

Many of the vocations that were common trades in years past have lost some of their luster with younger workers. Just go outside and you’ll see the ideal jobs portrayed by the mass media and advertisements – lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, athletes, developers, the list goes on.

Today’s youth often favors these paths, leaving many traditional contractor businesses challenged to find new talent.

Whether it’s plumbers, carpenters, or electricians, the story is often a similar one with businesses having trouble attracting younger workers to learn the ropes of the business as an apprentice.

What they don’t know is that contractor jobs, like plumbing, are an untapped industry that offers many potential routes and opportunities.

These are types of careers that offer a higher earning potential and better employment rates than some university-based careers. Long-term average earnings for these trades is similar, all over $50,000 per year.

The challenge is to attract young people in this industry, while also filtering applicants who are less capable of doing the job. Here are key tips for finding the next generation of workers for your business:

1. Connect with trade schools

Training providers, such as trade schools or vocational schools, love to boast about their job placement rates so many are eager to partner with businesses that can hire trained graduates.

Training providers are excellent for employees to recruit and for students who are interested in a trade profession. The training at trade school is more direct, therefore it takes less time to earn a diploma and thus this is a faster way for students to get a job.

Expert’s Tip: Search for trade schools and vocational training centers within a given radius of your business.

The average U.S. commute of about 30 minutes should be your guide, targeting candidates who are more likely to respond because your business is within a convenient driving distance.

Sites like and similar trade school directories can help you find schools in your target area.

Contractor payment protection

2. Prioritize aptitude and attitude

A worker who is eager to learn and grow is far more productive than a negative worker, even if the former has less experience than the latter. Aptitude is simply the ability to learn in a given area, like plumbing, carpentry, or the field of electricians.

Not everyone is cut out for the business, but the ones who can learn and are eager to learn are like striking gold.

A worker who has a better aptitude will have a better understanding of their weaknesses and strengths – an important trait for professional development. They can also easily make informed decisions, lowering the risk of making mistakes on the job.

Having the right attitude at work greatly reflects on what the worker can do and how productive of an employee they are. The right attitude will determine how the project is done and how the worker is perceived by others. This is especially important for customer interactions.

When a worker displays a good attitude, there is a higher chance of job success compared to those that are more negative or aloof.

What it Takes to Effectively Manage a Construction Team

3. Create an incentive program for existing employees to recruit trainees

Your existing employees may know someone who is smart, trainable, and with a great attitude – the perfect fit. Employees may have a natural apprehension about recommending someone because – let’s face it – sometimes it doesn’t work out.

An incentive program can help overcome that reluctance, possibly leading to your next apprentice or even a future leader of the company. Be careful in how you structure the incentives to help ensure long-term participation.

Cash bonuses in the paycheck tend to disappear into the maelstrom of bills and house payments we all have, making the incentive feel underwhelming to the employee who recruited the employee.

Good incentive programs provide a sense of contentment to your employees, providing them with a sense of worth. Consider something life can’t take away, like a trip.

Once they achieve the target and become eligible for the incentive, they know that they can do more, thereby increasing not just the performance of your existing employees, but acquiring more talents as well.


4. Go Where Your Target Audience Is

Be sure to list your apprenticeship opportunity with the Department of Labor.

Breadcrumbs all over the web lead prospective apprentices and younger workers to sites like this, and workers who may be undecided and are curious to learn which opportunities are available to them might even stumble across your company.

1. Listings

Look for local and state listings where you can get your business apprenticeship opportunity included. New Jersey, for example, has a section of its Career Connections Website dedicated to apprenticeship programs, including the contact information for the county coordinator.

This can be a valuable resource in learning how to create additional local awareness for your program.

2. Job fairs

Don’t overlook job fairs. Many job fairs are visited by hopeful workers who may not have a firm direction in their career path and who may not have considered working in a trade such as plumbing or carpentry.

One of the benefits of participating in job fairs is that you have access to large pools of qualified candidates.

This cuts down the time for wasted interviews of unqualified candidates as you’ll be able to meet them face to face and get to know instantly if they are capable of apprenticeship.

3. Advertise on popular job sites

List your apprenticeship with popular job sites such as,, or

But don’t just list your apprenticeship in these sites, take advantage of the ways in which your listing can be found by the right candidate. Put your listing in the right category and provide an adequate description of your apprenticeship so that a potential candidate can grasp your idea easily.

Think about keywords that users might choose and be sure to include them in your listing.

Also, think about your social media platforms. Targeted advertising on Facebook can reach exactly your target group and cause awareness.


5. Modernize your appearance and processes

If you want to attract younger workers, it can help to look modern. In industries known for triplicate-paper quotes and invoices, an updated process for quoting or interacting with businesses isn’t just good for business, it’s good for recruiting young talents.

These are folks who grew up with a cell phone or tablet in their hands. Reaching out through modern methods can go a long way in speaking a language that younger workers understand and can relate to.

1. Get mobile friendly

A recent study from the Pew Research Center revealed that 78 percent of the candidates use mobile devices to get a job; however, most of the application process was not optimized for mobile.

Moving past the outdated technology and being in tune with what young professionals want is a surefire way to attract more apprentices.

2. Create recruitment profiles on social media

Create organization recruitment profiles on popular social media platforms. In this way, young workers can learn more about your company and career opportunities.

For example, you could create a Facebook page to be a dedicated recruitment site. You can also use Twitter as a recruiting tool.

Since you have just 140 characters to get your message across, make your job posting short but concise, and don’t forget to use a hashtag for it to be found easily by potential candidates.

3. Simplify and streamline the online application process

Younger workers hate wasting time, and no candidate would want to spend hours filling out long applications.

A good way to do that is to take advantage of the LinkedIn application in which candidates can apply in seconds by simply using their profile data in LinkedIn and uploading the resume directly to the hiring database.

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