“The labour shortage is the biggest inhibitor to growth faced by our industry”, says Martina Auer-Klass, Head of HR in the PORR Group. “The situation in the construction sector is alarming. We were able to fill 1,000 positions across the Group immediately”. The company employs a total workforce of around 20,000 people in its seven home markets, with around half of those in Austria.
The most important means of combating the labour shortage is recruiting and training apprentices. While the number of apprentices is stagnating across the industry, PORR is actually increasing its proportion every year. This year it has 422 apprentices employed in 23 apprenticeship professions and has thereby been able to fill all vacant apprenticeship positions. The aim is to significantly increase this number once again.
“Ideally, we want to keep each and every one of these junior staff with us. But of course it can happen that some of them change companies after completing their apprenticeship. We believe that this risk is absolutely worth taking when it comes to training and retaining highly skilled workers”, says Auer-Klass.
Pioneer in construction training
With its PORR Campus, built in 2019, PORR has pioneered a new training concept for the industry. The campus represents the fourth pillar in training, in addition to the construction academy, vocational school and the construction site itself. Today it offers apprentices, trade workers and employees a wide range of training opportunities with 550m2 of training halls, 1,100m2 of open space and a dormitory with 55 beds.
Recruiting via TikTok
Martina Auer-Klass advocates for making the job profile and the appeal of the job more visible and accessible. “"We have relaunched our own employer image so we can meet young people where they are. For example, we are building on cooperation with TikTok influencers like Class Ninjas and using simplified job application channels. We got more than 3.5 million impressions in the previous year and managed to increase the number of applications by 154% compared to 2020”.
In addition, PORR is launching Talk’n’Job in April: a voice-controlled chat platform on which Job seekers can apply by voice message. An avatar asks the applicant questions – several languages are possible – and the answers are automatically transcribed into German. “The target group are apprentices and construction staff. This is a way for us to reduce barriers for job applications, for example for people who don’t have a CV.” Overall, she said, it is important ensure that young people are aware of the diverse career opportunities offered by apprenticeships. “But this requires a concerted push from the business community.”