Skip to main content

Upskilling Pathways to Retain Construction Employees

  • 4 Min Read

Companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for almost twice as long. Here’s how professional development can help.


When you hear the words “upskilling” or “professional development,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For some people, it’s learning how to handle difficult customers or being a more supportive coworker. For others, it means getting promoted and climbing the corporate ladder.

No matter what an employee’s objectives are, professional development opportunities can make work more engaging and can improve retention rates. It can also open doors to future opportunities within a company, keeping great candidates in-house and paving the way for them to advance without needing to look to competitors.

And that matters a lot; companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for almost twice as long as companies that don’t.

Below are three examples of how professional development can help pave internal mobility pathways for their employees.

Construction Career Pathways

1. Project Management

The construction industry is in need of project management skillsets in a major way. Help your early-career project coordinators advance through their project management careers by offering upskilling opportunities so they can level up their skills.

Project coordinator Skills needed to advance: project management, project planning, communication Courses: PMP Exam Preparation (Carleton University Future EDge), Project Planning (PowerED by Athabasca University), PM Skills: Interpersonal Skills for Project Leaders (MindEdge)
Project manager Skills needed to advance: leadership, finance, interviewing Courses: Communication and Leadership in Project Management (McMaster University), Foundations of Business Finance (McMaster University), Hiring Better: Labour Laws & Effective Interviews (Saskatchewan Polytechnic)
Senior project manager Skills needed to succeed: process improvement, transformational leadership, coaching Courses: Lean Continuous Improvement Certificate (Emory University), Transformational and Visionary Leadership (Broad College of Business, Michigan State University), Frontline Manager™: Coaching (MindEdge Learning)

Someone working in project management may ultimately have their goals set on advancing to a senior project manager or beyond. In order to get there, they’ll need to upskill a balance of soft skills (things like leadership and communication) with hard skills (things like project planning and Lean principles).

2. Preconstruction

Construction doesn’t happen without preconstruction. If you can help your junior estimators improve some of the skills they need, you can develop your future preconstruction managers in-house.

Estimating coordinator Skills needed to advance: estimating, building information modeling, teamwork Courses: Construction Estimating and Administrative Controls (NAIT), BIM Fundamentals I (University of Manitoba), Building and Enhancing Workplace Relationships (Memorial University)
Estimator Skills needed to advance: drafting and design, project management, team management Courses: AutoCAD Operator Certificate (NAIT), Excellence in Project Management (Carleton University Future EDge), Leading Virtual Teams (National University)
Preconstruction manager Skills needed to succeed: leadership, negotiation, risk management Courses: Sustainable Management: Leadership Ethics (MindEdge Learning), Strategic Negotiation (Broad College of Business, Michigan State University), Risk Management (NAIT)

Preconstruction can take many forms. In the example above, we used a possible career path in estimating. In that role, a junior staff member may ultimately want to become a preconstruction manager, a role that balances project and people management, once again blending a skillset based on people and practice. 

3. Site-Based Management

Tradespeople are the heart of the construction industry, but many of these employees have aspirations to advance. Give them the tools to advance by helping them improve their planning, time management and leadership skills.

Tradesperson Skills needed to advance: planning, time management, problem solving Courses: Construction Planning & Scheduling (NAIT), Time Management (MindEdge Learning), Critical Thinking for Problem Solving (McMaster University)
Foreperson Skills needed to advance: construction management, leadership, conflict management Courses: Construction Management Professional Certificate (National University), Leading Others–Getting the Best from Construction and Manufacturing Employees (NAIT), Workplace Conflict Management (Saskatchewan Polytechnic)
Superintendent Skills needed to succeed: resource management, inclusion, cost management Courses: Resources and Resource Allocation (NAIT), Creating a Culture of Inclusion (University of Guelph), Supervising Project Cost (NAIT)

No construction job can happen without on-site workers. Not everyone wants to become a foreperson or superintendent. But for those who do, they may not even know the path they need to take to get to management. 

Make Professional Development a Priority

Retain the great talent your organization has by helping them grow. D2L Wave is a free-to-use talent development solution that simplifies how employees find, request and register for professional development opportunities that align with an organization’s skill needs.

Try It Free

Written by:

Chase Banger
Chase Banger

Chase Banger is a Content Marketing Specialist at D2L. An award-winning journalist and former communications specialist, he has a passion for helping people through education.

Stay in the know

Educators and training pros get our insights, tips, and best practices delivered monthly

Table of Contents
  1. Construction Career Pathways
  2. Make Professional Development a Priority