Constructor - November/December 2015 - (Page 13)
The Construction Workforce Shortage
and AGC's Plan to Fix It
AS THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY continues to recover, many member firms have been tell-
BY STEPHEN E. SANDHERR
Too few students are
getting exposed to
or being provided with
the basic skills needed
to prepare for such
a career path. That
is why we released
an updated version
of our workforce
Preparing the Next
Generation of Skilled
ing us they are having a hard time finding qualified workers. That is why we conducted a
nationwide survey this past summer to gauge the extent of worker shortages. We received
nearly 1,400 responses and the results show that relatively few firms across the country have
been immune from growing labor shortages in the construction industry.
Nationwide, 86 percent of firms report difficulty filling positions. This is up from 83 percent
in 2014 and 81 percent in 2013, based on similar survey results we previously conducted.
Firms are particularly struggling to find qualified hourly craft professionals, with 79 percent
reporting trouble finding craft workers.
Among the various categories of craft workers, contractors nationwide report having the
hardest time finding carpenters, sheet metal installers and concrete workers. In fact, at least
one-quarter of respondents nationally reported difficulty finding qualified workers for each
of the 21 crafts identified in the survey.
While the competition for construction workers heats up, 36 percent of firms nationwide
report losing hourly craft workers to other local construction firms. Another 13 percent of firms
nationwide report losing workers to construction firms in other areas.
As a result of this growing competition for workers - from other industries as well as other
contractors - 56 percent of firms nationwide report they are increasing base pay rates for hourly
craft workers. Many firms also report they are providing incentives and bonuses, increasing
benefits or paying more in overtime to retain workers.
Workforce shortages are also changing the way many firms operate. Forty-three percent
of firms nationally report they have increased their use of subcontractors during the past year
because of tight labor conditions. In addition, 33 percent of firms nationwide report using
staffing companies to cope with labor shortages.
Unfortunately, 78 percent of firms nationwide expect it will either continue to be hard,
or become harder, to hire hourly craft professionals during the coming year. One possible
reason for this pessimism is that half of construction firms nationwide rate the local pipeline
for preparing new hourly craft professionals as below average or poor. That is a pretty severe
indictment of the quality of the training pipeline for our industry.
The sad fact is too few students are getting exposed to construction careers, or being
provided with the basic skills needed to prepare for such a career path. That is why we also
released an updated version of our workforce development plan: Preparing the Next Generation
of Skilled Construction Workers.
The plan identifies steps, such as increasing funding for career and technical education;
making it easier to establish construction academies and charter schools; and changing
antitrust laws so firms can establish their own training programs, that will reinvigorate the
pipeline for new construction workers.
Our ultimate goal is to get measures enacted that provide our industry with the tools needed
to fix this problem. In this industry, when you see a problem, you own it. And that is exactly
the approach we are taking; we see the problems that come with growing workforce shortages
and we are aggressively working to fix them. After all, the last thing any of us want is for the
construction sector's recovery to be undermined by a lack of available workers.
To view the national survey results, analysis of the
data and regional and state-by-state results, visit
@Constr uctor Ma g
NO V E MB E R / D E C E MB E R 2 0 1 5 | www.constructormagazine.com 13
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Constructor - November/December 2015
Play It Safe With BIM
Workforce Shortage Report: Western Region
Taking Off: The Unique Nature of Airport Construction
Pack Your Boots and Don Your Hat
Shape Up and Ship Out
AGC San Diego Opens Fall Protection Campus
Member and Chapter News
2015 Software Services Guide
Index to Advertisers
Constructor - November/December 2015