Redefining labour shortage

It’s the tried-and-true Catch-22: you need a job in order to get experience, but you need experience in order to get a job. The one-step-forward-two-steps-backward tango for an entry-level job hunter can feel incrementally personal. However, when the industry of interest boasts ‘help wanted’ across every headline like the construction sector does – without biting back.

Questioning the status quo

Struggling to bridge that gap, construction demands precision throughout the experience – encompassing not just the quality of the work but also the role’s responsibility. What’s apparent now, after sitting down with up-and-coming Site Coordinator Joseph Guzzo, is that appealing to the clear-cut experience laid out on the posting won’t be what secures his next position, though his pressure-treated work ethic may be.

The following is our interview with Guzzo. Text had been edited for clarity.

Q: Joseph, what inspired you to enter this industry?

A: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a part of building our community’s future and establish my role in this world, having been a part of buildings and homes in the GTA. This drive has pushed me to complete a college degree in George Brown College’s Architectural technology program. All throughout my life, communicating with personnel in the industry, one thing that I’ve always been told is that the construction industry is the best industry to get into. There are so many jobs, and it is always growing.

Q: Through your communication with professionals and general experience, where would you like to see your career go?

A: I’m fresh out of school and looking for a full-time position as a Site Coordinator. Although I don’t have any construction supervision and management experience, I’ve worked on-site for a homebuilder as a general labourer.

Q: And how’s that been – being the new blood on-site? What has been the biggest takeaway?

A: Being the youngest on the job site has really opened my understanding of the industry and other trades that I’ve worked with. [The experience] has allowed me to get a real education and visually learn how a house is built and what the process entails. Being a part of this process has proved a great help to my knowledge but not to my future endeavours in high-rise construction building. The trades industry is extremely top-heavy and is filled with personnel that is on their way to retirement, and there’s a surge of needing new and young employees.

Q: How has this informed your job-hunting experience?

A: Being convinced that I’d have a job out of school and would easily be able to find positions is sadly a future I looked forward to, but now I’m living the hardships of constantly updating my resume, going to interviews and being denied entry. I understand that this might be a normal hardship for others in different careers – but, in this case, the general difficulty is the constant bombardment of being reassured there will easily be management positions available on a construction site. This reminder is tough to swallow as I am trying to gain the experience for employers, but they want established employees with a grip on the industry already.

Q: When the hiring climate is as harsh as it is currently, what keeps you moving forward?

A: There is still the same drive in me as there was when I was a kid. There might even be an enhanced drive to prove myself once I do clinch that position. I want to grow and be a highly sought employee, proving the companies that did not want to provide me with the experience needed beforehand wrong.

Wrapping it up with a ribbon-cutting ceremony

Without ever having set foot on site, up-and-coming construction professionals are no strangers to the grit and grind. That being said, the source of the fingertip callouses has been decidedly different than what was initially promised. The good news is – it’s not a matter of if, but only when. The bad news is, the mould Joeseph was trained to make – he may need to break. Thankfully, in this case, thinking outside the box rather than building it will only enhance the quality of the craftsmanship in the end.

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