US: Shortage of Skilled Workers Dampens Construction Industry

us shortage of skilled workers dampens construction industry

us shortage of skilled workers dampens construction industry

The construction industry has recorded the level of unfilled job openings in the US with contractors struggling to find skilled workers. There is a need for hundreds of thousands of qualified, skilled construction professionals. 

Michael Bellaman, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) President and CEO, said filling these roles with skilled craft professionals is vital to the US economy and infrastructure rebuilding initiatives. Construction firms need to attract about 546,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2023 to meet the demand for labor.

Data analysis shows that the construction industry averaged more than 390,000 job openings per month in 2022, while unemployment in the sector was the second lowest on record at 4.6 percent. According to the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk workforce survey, 85 percent of about 1,400 contractors have open craft positions, and 88 percent have vacancies which are hard to fill.

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Ken Simonson, the Association’s chief economist, says these shortages are adding to the impacts of supply chain disruptions that have made it difficult for firms to get materials delivered on time and that are driving up the cost of those materials. Highlighting the survey results during a September 6 webinar, he said 61 percent of responding firms have experienced project delays because of worker shortages. 

Kenna Smith, a talent acquisition manager for Roanoke, said the company has had about 100 open positions every month for the past 18 months or so, and about 150 openings in the past six months. There’s a shortage of qualified applicants even for roles like project engineers, equipment operators and trade workers. Another contractor Hal Fuglevand said the company’s managers are desperate for truck drivers, equipment operators and concrete workers. “It’s like a revolving door. People just won’t show up. You’ve got concrete pour scheduled in the morning, you’re going to need 10 guys to handle it. Well, three guys just don’t show up.” 

Simonson said the biggest takeaway from the Workforce Survey is how much the nation is failing to prepare future workers for high paying careers infields like construction. “In virtually every community in this country there are open construction positions that pay better than the average job and are vital to local economic growth.” 

Allison Scott, director of customer experience and industry advocacy, believes the industry is not attracting enough qualified people. “The labor shortage in the construction industry is becoming even more pressing as the current workforce retires. Most of the jobs that I had in the industry did not previously exist when I first arrived. 20 more years, we’re gonna have even more roles that embrace and intertwine technology in ways that we cannot even fathom right now.”

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