Nearly three-fourths of construction firms across the country report they are having trouble finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots amid concerns that labor shortages will only get worse, according to the results of an industry-wide survey recently released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials called for immigration and education reform measures to help avoid worker shortages.
“Many construction firms are already having a hard time finding qualified workers and expect construction labor shortages will only get worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages.”
Of the 74% of responding firms that are having a hard time finding qualified craft workers, the most frequently reported difficulties are in filling such onsite construction jobs as carpenters, equipment operators and laborers, Sandherr said. Fifty-three percent are having a hard time filling professional positions—especially project supervisors, estimators and engineers.
The association official added that most firms expect labor shortages will continue and get worse for the next year. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they expect it will remain difficult or get harder to find qualified craft workers while 72% say the market for professional positions will remain hard or get worse. Seventy-four percent of respondents report there are not enough qualified craft workers available to meet future demand while 49% said there weren’t enough construction professionals available, he added.
Sandherr said that many firms report they are taking steps to prepare future construction workers. He noted that 48% of responding firms are mentoring future craft workers, 38% are participating in career fairs and 33% are supporting high school-level construction skills academies. In addition, 47% of responding firms are offering internships for construction professionals.
Sandherr added that nearly 700 construction firms participated in the survey, which was conducted during July and August of this year.