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Workforce Shortage in the Construction Industry


The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) recently released the results of their 2017 Workforce Survey. The highlights of the survey shows nationwide, 70% of construction firms report difficulties filling hourly craft positions. This number peaks at 75% in the west region. Experts believe that the shortages are due to the vast amount of work currently available and there is simply more demand for craft labor than there are workers to perform it. Additionally, the outlook from the firms surveyed lacks optimism, as 67% believe it will continue or become harder to hire employees for their workforce in the future.

In response, the AGC has developed a Workforce Development Plan to help reduce any future workforce shortages, mostly by increasing the accessibility of training for careers in technical industries. The plan focuses on working with congress to reform the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education act, which is the primary federal funding vehicle for career and technical education programs. This, in turn, should encourage community college career and technical programs to offer classes to high school students for free, encourage apprenticeship programs and community colleges to work together, and expand federal apprenticeship programs. Additionally, the plan encourages private funding for craft training programs and provides several other suggestions to incentivize both the private and public sectors to train and hire new workers. While these measures are aimed to curb future workforce shortages, construction firms are still left with the question of how to fulfill their current labor demands.

Construction firms appear to be handling the work shortage in different ways. Many are finding ways to attract more employees and retain their current ones by increasing base pay rates, improving benefits, and providing bonuses and incentives. Some are focusing on ways to increase their workers’ productivity, which include more in-house training and increasing overtime hours. Others appear to be using means that reduce the amount of work their laborers need to perform, which include increasing use of subcontractors, increasing use of labor-reducing equipment, and integrating new technology in order to increase virtual construction methods. While there is no steadfast way to combat workforce shortages, construction firms are finding and utilizing different methods in hopes of meeting their labor demands.



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