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Study: Painters, Trades in Demand

Monday, October 27, 2014

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A good painter is hard to find, America's employers report.

So are other tradespeople and professional positions across the construction industry, according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America.

More than eight in 10 U.S. construction companies are reporting difficulty in filling openings for painters and other key craft workers, as well as project supervisors, estimators and engineers and others.

Thirty-seven percent of companies specifically reported a shortage of painters.

Key Findings

Eighty-three percent of responding firms are having a hard time filling craft worker positions, while 61 percent report trouble in filling professional positions, according to the survey.

Craft workers

The Associated General Contractors of America say that a growing number of locations and construction segments are having difficulty finding workers with needed skills.

To address the shortages, many firms are changing the way they operate, including using more subcontractors (48 percent) and staffing companies (37 percent) to get work done.

In addition, 59 percent of firms report paying more to help retain construction craft workers and 56 percent have done so to retain construction professionals, according to the survey.

Results by Region

Worker shortages appear most severe in the Southeast, where 86 percent of contractors report having a hard time finding qualified workers.

Eighty-four percent of contractors in the Midwest, 82 percent in the West; and 67 percent in the Northeast reported difficulty finding workers, AGC said.

More than 1,000 firms responded to the 2014 Workforce Survey conducted in August and September.

Weak Outlook

Construction firms seemed particularly concerned with the quantity and quality of local construction education and training programs, AGC noted.

Nationwide, 55 percent of firms say the local pipeline for preparing new craft workers is “below average or poor.”

© / kadmy

Thirty-seven percent of companies responding in the survey reported a shortage of painters.

Meanwhile, 35 percent of firms have a low opinion of the local pipeline for construction professionals.

“Considering how much the nation’s educational focus has moved away from teaching students career and technical skills during the past few decades, it is easy to understand why the construction industry is facing such severe labor shortages,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for the AGC, said in a statement.

More Training Needed

Therefore, association officials are calling for new career and technical school programs, as well as other measures, to offset the labor shortages.

The AGC has a created a workforce development plan in response to the growing problem.

Preparing the Next Generation of Skilled Construction Workers: A Workforce Development Plan” identifies steps to reinvigorate the pipeline for new construction workers. Options include greater funding for vocational education and making it easier to establish construction-focused schools.

During a visit to the ACE Academy, a construction-focused public high school in Portland, OR, the economist commented, “Schools like this should be the norm, not the exception.”


Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); Construction; Contractors; Craftsmanship; North America; Painters; Program/Project Management; Worker training; Workers

Comment from Jeremi Day, (10/27/2014, 9:39 AM)

I've not commented on this site in a while, but I just have to jump in here..... I was completely on board here until I read this plan "AGC" developed. It even sounded like a well thought out plan until I reached the "Enact Immigration Reform" section. So, to the person or persons responsible for this "Workforce Development Plan"... How in the HELL can you advocate giving "millions of undocumented workers" a path to citizenship??!!! They are law breakers and ILLEGAL ALIENS! Giving them a "way to attain legal status" is against everything our laws were developed for! First of all, this will only hurt our economy! Granted, there are some who come here because they love America and everything we stand for. Those very few people who want to be AMERICANS deserve legal status. MOST who come here exploit our services and economy by living in low income housing in groups of more than 10 in some cases; send ALL of their money they make here for a few years AND THEN GO BACK TO THEIR NATIVE COUNTRIES! They contribute NOTHING to this economy and they have no desire to become AMERICANS!... I'm sorry, but I immediately stopped reading this nonsensical LIBERAL POS as soon as I saw this section! HORRIBLE! “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” ? Theodore Roosevelt

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/27/2014, 9:45 AM)

According to the BLS, the median wage for a painter is only $17.01/hr.

Comment from Randy Gordon, (10/27/2014, 9:58 AM)

Nobody aspires to be a painter.

Comment from Karen Fischer, (10/27/2014, 11:05 AM)

What we don't seem to see if outreach to high school students who may not have the skill sets for a technical career, but who have more than enough ability and talent for a skilled trade. Randy, the reason why "no one aspires to be a painter" is because of the connotation that painter means "dumb." Same things has been said about laborers. I'm sorry but we have to stop equating skilled trades to lack of brain power. If we can get into some of our schools and sell the idea of skilled trades as well as have some establishment of a reliable training program that actually teaches something of value, then we probably could turn this around and get the labor forces we need.

Comment from corey harink, (10/27/2014, 11:19 AM)

Randy - you seem to hit it on the head. "Nobody aspires to be a painter" ... and it is likely because of what Tom mentioned "the median wage for a painter is only $17.01/hr" . However Jeremi, your response seems a bit off the rails and headed down another path, but I would like to comment on the fact that maybe those "Illegal Aliens" as you call them actually do aspire to be painters. Maybe there contribution to the country is that your infrastructure is not completely falling down because they are working hard to maintain it. Certainly they send there money home to look after their families, (my guess is you would do the same), and living 10 people to a house well I guess they are not the reason for 2008 debt crisis because they certainly are living within their means. Are you? ... Your points about the undocumented workers have some justification but think of it this way - "If the government was able to develop a plan in which they could authorize them to live legally in the United States and have them PAYING TAXES then they certainly wouldn't be hurting the economy". I am by no means a liberal supporter, however by being Canadian I do support tolerance for diversity, and realize that this country and yours were built on immigration, we certainly are not doing enough to support our own growth with out immigration is the US? My guess is you are not Native American, so you Jeremi are also a descendant of a immigrant, illegal or not who knows, the fact is you are here working in the United States proudly supporting it's constitution and way of life... perhaps if other were given the chance to stay in the US legally, provide a living for their families, and pay taxes they to would have the same pride in the USA and the Flag as you do. Jobs need to be done and if the American people are not wanting to do them then somebody has to. It's as simple as that !

Comment from Keith Holdsworth, (10/27/2014, 12:30 PM)

An illegal alien is an illegal, plain and simple, they broke the law. There's no other way to twist it. That being said they should be treated as a criminal. I've been in this industry for 39 years and seen this lack of skilled trades coming since the late 1980's. The painters union in my region has done an exceptional job of picking up the task of investing in skilled trades education, however the private sector has languished in this area. Everything in the education system is based on primarily desk type of jobs and have done little to nothing to promote skilled trades. As an incentive maybe failing grades or second chances should be offered more liberally to the ones who struggle in other areas instead of giving up on them. I have met several young individuals who dropped out of school early or have limited education who can advance and assert themselves in other fields. This isn't an immigration problem, this is US educational failure. Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs" has been pushing for this for some time for good reason. It doesn't matter what job you do as long as it's done with pride and quality. Our schools are more interested in teaching political correctness than doing the job they're supposed to do, prepare our youth for jobs of ALL sorts.

Comment from Jim Johnson, (10/27/2014, 12:45 PM)

Jeremi, there is much truth to what you say, but that is not the entire picture. Corey, most of us have no objection to immigration, but it Must be done legally! Many millions of people have come here legally and our laws must be upheld. As to illegals, there are really three problems with them. 1) They are typically not paying taxes. 2) The illegals are weighing down our welfare system and that is where much of our 17 Trillion of debt is from. 3) They are stealing American workers jobs! Were they not here and willing to work for cheap wages then wages would be increased to the point that people would do the work. There is also a 4th problem, not tied to illegal immigration, and that is the welfare system. Cut the welfare system by 25% and see how fast people would be out getting jobs! There are plenty of capable and trained people available, but they get so much living off the welfare system they do not need or care to work. There currently is a lower percentage of people working than there was during the great depression! We have somewhere near 28 Million unemployed workers. Do we need to increase that number by providing amnesty? Is that fair to the American people who are paying their welfare payments, teaching their kids, providing them free medical coverage? Illegals are getting more than Citizens do. As for the AGC survey, questions of any survey can be manipulated to provide whatever results you want, so do not trust any of them! Plus, we already know the AGC is paid to be a pro amnesty group. This is part of the service provided to their members, they promote cheap labor. As for Randy saying no one aspires to be a painter, that would change if the illegals were not depressing wages for painters. Shut off all welfare to non-citizens and see how fast wages go up and suddenly workers are available!

Comment from David Grove, (10/28/2014, 6:42 AM)

Elections are coming up. Vote for a change that will go in the right direction of fixing our borders and immigration systems, our educations systems and the distribution of our taxes to support these changes (or rather corrections). All of this is almost impossible without confirming the voter is a US citizen though. SO support a change there as well. Maybe our kids and grandkids will have a chance then.

Comment from Jeremi Day, (10/28/2014, 10:11 AM)

Corey, Thank you for your comments. Although I appreciate your view, I must disagree with you on a few points you attempted to make. My response, however passionate you thought it was, was not “off the rails”. What I said was, I was in agreement with the plan, until I read that section. First off, you’re not an American, nor do you live here, so I’m not even sure how you can position your fingers to write a response to this posting or my comment. In regards to your juvenile comment about me living within my means, that was ridiculous and I won’t even entertain you with a response. You have no idea what we go through with this dilemma and how much we’re exploited by undocumented workers. If you noticed, most who responded that feel passionate about this country have the same view, THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW! Let me throw a scenario at you. If I came to your country, broke the law in any way, exploited your free medical program, destroyed a whole neighborhood, and then demanded that you make me a citizen, I would be thrown out of Canada with a hockey stick up my nose and a Mounty as an escort. The same is true with ANY other country an American goes to. If we break the law, we should be held accountable, not rewarded with citizenship. I can’t even understand how anyone thinks this is ok. Our infrastructure does NOT depend on undocumented workers. Undocumented, by definition, means they are not paying taxes at all. (Undocumented …. No Documents) I’m sorry to break that sad news to you. I can’t understand why you think it is ok for someone to break the law and then receive a reward from that country, so if you can give a valid explanation, I’d like to hear that one. If you’re saying they should be held accountable, pay for their crime, and then be given a chance to apply for citizenship, then I agree. However, that is not what you said. I agree that our countries were built on immigration and I never said that I have a problem with immigrants. I know PLENTY of painters and other immigrant workers who are here doing things the right way, making a living for their families, sending money back to them, and planning to bring all of their families to this great country…. But they are doing it as the laws dictate. There is a process that must be followed in order to work or live here. Anyone planning to move here should abide by the rules, laws and processes. In response to your other, more personal comments…. Grow up!

Comment from Andrew Larson, (10/29/2014, 6:56 AM)

Don't want illegal immigration? Stop hiring illegal aliens. Employers who hire illegal aliens are the true criminals. Save your indignation for those law-breakers and tax cheats who rob our economy of billions each year and support human trafficking. No illegal hiring; no illegal aliens. Get it?

Comment from Mark Anater, (10/29/2014, 11:59 AM)

The article is about a shortage of qualified painters, but the discussion has devolved into name-calling over illegal immigration. It's just this sort of distraction that keeps us from tackling real problems. Some powers that be like this, because solving problems is hard and often unpopular. The problem of not enough qualified painters will require better training programs, employers willing to let new people learn on the job, and wages that make the profession more attractive. I see little sentiment for those measures here.

Comment from jesse chasteen, (11/4/2014, 9:27 AM)

Painter....the tradesman that comes behind all else and takes the job to the finishline....I am now retired, but in my 30 plus years I took many and schooled them to master the trade. My comment to all....master the skills and you will not hurt for work...if you are not working you are either LAZY or LOUSY....

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