Construction Today - January 2017 - 86
By Terry McDonough
ven as construction spending is on
the rise in the U.S., the construction
industry, like many others, is facing
a significant challenge: a growing
industry skills gap.
In fact, the challenge facing the construction industry might be even more acute
than the skills gaps confronting others. The
ripple effect of the construction industry
skills gap includes altering the way some
firms do business. A 2015 survey by the
Associated General Contractors of America
(AGC) found that 86 percent of nearly 1,400
firms surveyed were having difficulty filling
available positions. The survey found that
carpenters, sheet metal installers, concrete
workers, project managers and supervisors
were particularly hard to find.
The AGC survey also found that the
labor shortages are changing the way some
CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM JANUARY 2017
construction industry employers do business, leading some to raise
wages or rely more heavily on subcontractors or temporary labor
firms. A particularly troubling finding was that some construction
industry companies felt the labor shortages had the potential to put
worker safety at risk.
Feeling the Impact
The impact of the construction industry skills gap is felt not only by
industry employers, but other businesses and consumers as well.
Shortages of skilled workers can have a significant impact on project
timing and pricing. The findings of the Special Questions on Labor and
Subcontractors' Availability reported last year by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) as part of its Housing Market Index
(HMI) showed the labor shortages over the prior 12 months had caused
61 percent of the builders surveyed to raise home prices, 58 percent
to have difficulty completing projects on time, made some projects
unprofitable for 26 percent and caused 23 percent to turn down some
projects. The cost and availability of labor topped the list of problems
facing homebuilders in NAHB's HMI when they were asked to rank the
challenges they faced in 2015 and expected to see in 2016.