Survey Breaks Down Labor Shortage Concern
According to a new survey released from the Associated General Contractors of America, along with Autodesk, 80% of construction firms reports that they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions.
The AGC notes that while the industry is taking a range of steps to address the situation, it calls on federal officials to also assist.
“Workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s Chief Executive Officer.
“However, construction labor shortages are a challenge that can be fixed, and this association will continue to do everything in its power to make sure that happens.”
Of the nearly 2,000 survey respondents, 80% said they are having difficulty filling hourly craft positions. All four regions of the country are experiencing similarly severe craft worker shortages, with 83% of contractors in the West and South reporting a hard time filling the positions, along with 81% in the Midwest and 75% rate in the Northeast.
Those numbers are similar to what was reported last year: With more than 2,500 respondents, last year 81% of contractors in the West and South reported difficulty filling the hourly positions, with 80% in the Midwest and 77% in the Northeast.
The survey found that a major area of concern is that contractors are skeptical of the quality of the pipeline for recruiting and preparing new craft personnel. 45% say the local pipeline for preparing well-trained and skilled workers is poor and 26% say the pipeline for finding workers who can pass a drug test is poor.
The shortages are prompting many firms to boost pay and compensation. Two-thirds of firms report they have increased base pay rates for craft workers and 29% report they are providing incentives and bonuses.
These numbers are close to last year as well, when 62% reported increasing base pay rates, 24% reported improving employee benefits and 25% reported using incentives and bonuses.
This year, the survey also found that firms are also taking a greater role in developing their own workforce, with 46% reporting that have launched or expanded in-house training programs and half report getting involved in career building programs.
“Construction workforce shortages are prompting many firms to innovate their way to greater productivity,” said Allison Scott, Head of Construction Integrated Marketing at Autodesk.
“As the cost of labor continues to increase and firms look to become even more efficient, technology can enable better collaboration and ultimately lead to more predictable outcomes. There is also opportunity in untapped pools of talent such as tradeswomen, veterans and young people looking for an alternative to the traditional four-year university.”
Scott added that 29% of firms say they are investing in technology to supplement worker duties: 25% of firms report they are using cutting-edge solutions, including drones, robots and 3D printers while 23% of firms report they are taking steps to improve jobsite performance by relying on tools such as Building Information Modeling and doing more off-site prefabrication.
This year, 44% of firms reported they are increasing construction prices (compared to 47% last year) and 29% are putting longer completion times into their bids for new work because of the lack of workers (compared to 27% last year).
The AGC says it has called on the federal government “to boost funding for career and technical education. They also called on federal leaders to allow more immigrants to enter the country to work in construction, let construction students at community and career colleges qualify for federal Pell Grants and make it easier for firms to establish apprenticeship and other training programs.”