Construction Today - January 2017 - 87
IN THIS SECTION
Linn-Mathes Inc. -
In today's construction market, the skills shortage is so significant
that one hears anecdotal accounts of contractors in hot markets seeing subcontractors trying to renegotiate prices upwards between the
time initial agreements are reached and work actually begins.
Meanwhile, the pace of construction in the United States continues to grow following the Great Recession. The U.S. Census Bureau
reported that during the first seven months of this year, construction
spending stood at $647.7 billion, up 5.6 percent from the same period
in 2015. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of
construction laborers and helpers to grow 13 percent from 2014 to
2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
Against that backdrop, there's troubling news in a recent Conference Board study ranking the risk of labor shortages faced by 457
industries that ranked construction ninth.
Many workers left the construction industry following the construction downturn that accompanied the 2008-2009 recession. At
the same time, many traditional training paths into the skilled trades
such as high school vocational education programs have been eliminated. And the construction industry, like so many others, is feeling
the impact of baby boomer retirements with older workers leaving
the workforce and taking valuable skills with them.
While the construction industry skills gap presents challenges for industry employers, it provides an opportunity for workers to develop
the necessary skills and for employers who can help workers develop
the talents they seek.
Government policies that support an increased focus on vocational and technical education in industries facing labor shortages are
one part of the solution to closing the skills gap in the construction
industry and elsewhere. But construction industry employers must
also take steps to engage and further develop existing employees in
order to retain them. And they must participate in training efforts
aimed at recruiting new talent into the construction workforce with
the skills needed to ensure both the company's success and that of
Industry partnerships can also play a role in narrowing the skills
gap. In Tennessee, for every five people who leave the construction
industry only one is replaced through existing apprenticeship programs. What's more, the average construction tradesman is 50 years
old. In response to these findings, industry associations have formed
the "Go Build Tennessee" initiative, an effort to encourage young
people to consider the construction industry, educate them about the
opportunities that exist and make the point that skilled construction
trades offer the potential for good paying jobs.
The organization's website provides detailed information on various construction industry trades, as well as information on training
Linn-Mathes is building
a high-end residential
tower in Chicago.
& Development Corp.
Mountco's projects help
Linn-Mathes Inc. -
Exhibit on Superior
Mountco Construction &
available at various two- and four-year colleges and through apprenticeship programs.
It's the kind of step that's needed to close the
industry's skills gap and help those who are
looking for laborers.
The skills gap facing the construction
industry is very real, and its impact is
significant. Still, the gap should be viewed
as an opportunity for those in the industry
to promote efforts to attract workers to construction and to deliver the training needed
to create the skilled employees the industry
desperately needs. A thoughtful approach
to providing that training will ensure not
only that the industry has workers with the
right talent for the job, but that many more
workers can develop the skills that will set
them on the path to high-paying careers.
Terry McDonough is the CEO of Strayer@Work, a human capital consultancy.
Strayer@Work helps organizations close their most critical skill gaps. For more
information, visit strayeratwork.com.
JANUARY 2017 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM