We’ve previously covered how contractors on federal construction projects must abide by affirmative action regulations, and it’s not hard to see that foreign-born workers are becoming a vital part of the industry. More and more, construction companies are employing foreign-born workers in order to combat the labor shortages plaguing the industry. But inclusion can bring with it frustration when there is a breakdown in communication among industry professionals. Below, a Central FL construction lawyer discusses the construction industry’s language gap and how it’s affecting project sites across the nation.
Reliant on Foreign Language Skills
A report published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) found that 9 out of 10 U.S. employers rely on employees with foreign language skills. A third of employers reported heavily relying on these workers. Of all the sectors studied in the report — hospitality and travel, healthcare and social assistance, trade, etc. — the construction industry had the greatest foreign language skills gap. Furthermore, it is expected that this demand will only increase over the next five years.
Losing Out on Opportunities
Along with the professional and technical services sector, the construction sector was reported to be most likely to have lost business over the prior three years due to this foreign language gap. As one construction company representative stated, “We are a construction firm that needs manpower. We could hire more Spanish-speaking employees if we had managers able to communicate effectively in Spanish. It would open up new labor markets to us.” Spanish was by far the most in-demand foreign language, followed by Chinese, French, Japanese, and German.
Making Foreign Language a Priority
As you can see, the foreign language gap isn’t just impacting your jobsite; it’s impacting all aspects of your company. Without employees with foreign language skills, you risk not only the safety of your Spanish-speaking workers on your jobsite but also losing out on business opportunities in a global industry. In order to fill a foreign-language gap, you will need to analyze the needs of your company and make foreign language a priority during recruitment efforts. In an industry in desperate need of skilled labor, foreign language skills are among the most valuable commodities to have.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.