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Skilled Workers in Short Supply

Monday, September 14, 2015

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Nearly 90 percent of U.S. construction companies report difficulty in filling key craft and salaried jobs as construction demand rises across the country, according to an industry survey.

The Associated General Contractors of America found that of the 1,358 survey respondents, 86 percent said they are having trouble finding qualified workers.

Survey
Background photo: ITER Organization / Courtesy of AGC

In announcing the industry survey results Thursday (Sept. 10), association officials also issued a call for better education programs for the construction industry.

“Few firms across the country have been immune from growing labor shortages in the construction industry,” said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC.

In announcing the survey results Thursday (Sept. 10), association officials also issued a call for “new career and technical school programs as well as other workforce measures to offset the labor shortages that are forcing firms to change how they operate and pose risks to workplace safety.”

“The sad fact is too few students are being exposed to construction careers or provided with the basic skills needed to prepare for such a career path,” Sandherr added.

The survey was conducted in July and August.

From Carpenters to Engineers

Seventy-nine percent of responding contractors are finding it challenging to fill one or more of the 21 hourly craft professional positions, particularly carpenters (73 percent of firms that employ carpenters report difficulty); sheet metal installers (65 percent); and concrete workers (63 percent), the report said.

Forty-nine percent of responding contractors report trouble finding qualified painters for open positions, according to the survey results.

In addition, 52 percent of companies are reporting difficulty in filling salaried professional positions, including project managers/supervisors (listed by 55 percent of firms that employ them); estimators (43 percent); and engineers (34 percent), noted AGC's chief economist Ken Simonson.

Competition, Pay and Safety

As labor shortages grow more severe, competition for workers is heating up, Simonson added.

He noted that 36 percent of companies report losing hourly craft professionals to other local construction firms, and 21 percent to other industries locally.

chart
AGC

Nearly 50 percent of firms report difficulty finding qualified painters.

Thirteen percent of responding contractors report losing workers to construction firms in other locations.

Growing competition for workers is also prompting 56 percent of firms to increase base pay rates for hourly craft professionals.

Moreover, 43 percent of firms have increased their reliance on subcontractors because of tight labor conditions.

Worker shortages also appear to be impacting safety, Simonson added, with 15 percent of firms reporting an increase in injuries and illnesses because of worker shortages.

D+D News polled readers the week of Aug. 31 on the topic of worker shortages. When asked if there was a shortage of qualified workers to fill available positions in their companies, 78 percent of respondents said that most applicants weren't qualified, while 22 percent of respondents had not witnessed a shortage.

AGC’s Plan

Association officials have updated their Preparing the Next Generation of Skilled Construction Workers: A Workforce Development Plan to address the worker shortage issue.

AGC’s plan outlines steps, such as increasing funding for vocational education and making it easier to establish construction-focused schools.

The plan also calls for comprehensive immigration reform and measures to make it easier to hire veterans.

   

Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); Concrete; Construction; Craftsmanship; General contractors; Good Technical Practice; Industry surveys; North America; Painters; Roofing contractors; Safety; Subcontractors; Worker training; Workers

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/14/2015, 10:18 AM)

It would be nice of D+D and Paintsquare would put out articles with some additional perspectives on worker availability instead of just using AGC press releases again and again.


Comment from peter gibson, (9/14/2015, 3:10 PM)

D+D has nothing to add to the dialogue. The AGC take is the way it is. Young people are not exposed to trades,and would rather fool around with devices the work at trades. Who wants to sit on a roof at 120 F ? A nice swanky office is what they have in mind. That aint changin at this time. No trade education in the US at this time.....have to go to college.Right !


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