The Skilled Trades Dilemma

Who will be the next generation of construction workers?

The construction industry continues to grow, but there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople. Over the last several years, a variety of trends have collided to create the current trade shortage: aging workers, a shortage of young people entering those fields and rising material and transportation costs. Construction employment fell drastically during the great recession, bringing employment in the industry to the lowest level in decades.

Millions of skilled workers transitioned into other careers following the 2008 housing crash and never returned to their original trade in fear of instability in the marketplace. With recent positive growth, there is still an ongoing struggle to find qualified candidates to fill open positions.

A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America revealed nearly 80 percent of construction businesses are having a hard time finding qualified skilled labor. Even when the economy started to rebound, business owners and managers missed multiple years of potential worker training opportunities. Apprenticeships also dropped sharply as contractors were still struggling to regain focus and structure in the work place.

The promise of new construction jobs continues to gain momentum and as of today, is on a visible upward path, but there has never been a more vital time for the construction industry to take steps to combat the skilled labor shortage. Small steps taken to reposition the construction industry as a viable career option for new entrants to the working world will make a massive difference for the construction industry in the long-run.

To create a more highly skilled workforce overall, construction firms need to invest in training for all employees. To do so, these firms should also offer extensive training for all new employees, offer refresher training courses for all-level employees and encourage mentorship programs that will allow their senior workers to pass along their knowledge to the younger working generations before they retire.

While most (if not all) jobs require some level of skill, “skilled workers” or “tradespeople” bring a degree of expertise to the performance of a given job. In addition to skills training, construction firms should also utilize training from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in effort to train new employees to improve safety on-site.

Filling this gap is going to take a collaborative effort on all fronts, including encouraging America’s youth to return to the construction industry. While the solution should appear clear-cut in approach and direction, young professionals are still hesitant to explore a path in skilled trades. Here at a.j. Veneklasen Inc., we believe working with local schools and coordinating student volunteer days will help encourage today’s youth and help the community as a whole recognize the need to develop sustainable career options. Every generation should have access to viable resources.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning about career opportunities in the construction industry, be sure to follow us on Medium or contact us directly by clicking the link below. We can’t wait to hear from you.