Two-Thirds of Contractors Struggle to Find Qualified Craft Workers

Words: Dan KamysAugust 31, 2016 — According to an industry-wide survey by the Associated General Contractors of America, two-thirds of construction firms are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce. Association officials said that many firms, in order to cope, are changing the way they pay and operate. New workforce measures are needed, they said, to improve the pipeline for recruiting and training new craft workers. Of the 1,459 survey respondents, 69% said they are having difficulty filling hourly craft positions. Craft worker shortages are the most severe in the Midwest, where 77% of contractors are having a hard time filling those positions. The region is followed by the South, where 74% of contractors are finding it difficult to get craft workers. The labor shortages come as demand for construction continues to grow. Growing demand for construction workers helps explain why 75% of firms say it will continue to be hard, or become harder, to find hourly craft workers this year. Because of the tight labor market conditions, nearly half of construction firms are having to increase base pay rates for craft workers because of the difficulty in filling positions. Twenty-two percent have improved employee benefits for craft workers, and 20% report they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers. Forty-eight percent of firms also report they are doing more in-house training to cope with workforce shortages, while 47% are increasing overtime hours and 39% are increasing their use of subcontractors. In addition, 37% report getting involved with career-building programs in local schools. Twenty-one percent report they are increasing their use of labor-saving equipment, 13% are using offsite prefabrication and 7% are using virtual construction methods like Building Information Modeling. AGC of America continues to urge Congress to reform and increase funding for the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and make it easier to set up charter schools and career academies that teach basic construction skills. The survey was conducted in July and August. Click here to see the survey results, analysis of the data and regional and state-by-state results.
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