Tackling the Need to 'Reskill' the Future Workforce
According to an Aug. 29 press release from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 80 percent of construction firms are having a difficult time filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce, posing "a significant risk to future economic growth."
The shortage is nationwide, with 81 percent reporting shortages in the West and South, 80 percent in the Midwest, and 77 percent in the Northeast.
"With a rise in the share of firms having trouble finding skilled craft workers, it's evident that we need to reskill the future workforce," said Sarah Hodges, senior director of construction business for Autodesk, which conducted the survey with AGC.
The shortages come as demand for construction continues to grow. Between July 2017 and July 2018, construction expanded in 281 out of 358 metro areas that AGC tracks.
"Growing demand for construction workers helps explain why 81 percent of firms report it will continue to be hard, or get harder, to find hourly craft workers this year," states the release.
"Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread," said Ken Simonson, AGC's chief economist. "The best way to encourage continued economic growth, make it easier to rebuild aging infrastructure, and place more young adults into high-paying careers is to address construction workforce shortages."
The National Electrical Contractors Association has been working to address this problem in a number of ways, including targeting high school students seeking college alternatives, former military personnel, and related tradespeople. NECA announced that its 2018 NECA Convention & Trade Show (Sept. 29–Oct. 2 in Philadelphia) will feature a number of programs focused on addressing the industry's critical workforce shortage.
For example, the convention's first Town Hall meeting (Sunday, Sept. 30, at 11:30 a.m.) is focused on addressing the growing electrician shortage and highlighting the latest incentives being offered in this area. The convention is also featuring an expanded Apprentice Appreciation Day, sponsored by the NECA Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter in partnership with Philadelphia's Local Joint Apprentice and Training Committee (JATC).
"Our $160 billion industry offers rewarding, high-paying careers to meet future building demands with paid on-the-job training and no college debt," said David Long, NECA president and president of Miller Electric Co., Jacksonville, Fla.