The Construction Industry’s Response to Workforce Challenges and Meeting the Skills Gap Head-On
With the latest uptick in building and development, it’s never been more important to have well-trained and experienced personnel on the job. This building boom reaffirms the need for the next generation of workers to embrace the many options currently available via trades, such as a career in mechanics and engineering. However, both across the country and here in Massachusetts, a number of trades have experienced a skills gap that threatens the long-term maintenance and safety of our infrastructure and systems.
The skills gap – the difference between skills that employers want or need, and skills being offered by the workforce, often due to a lack of training – has threatened the effectiveness of the construction industry for some time. As of early January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were nearly seven million unfilled jobs across the United States, many in the trade and technical fields. And, according to a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 80% of construction industry firms report having difficulty finding skilled workers for hourly positions, which make up a majority of the industry’s workforce. Talent shortages are resulting in delays and higher project costs as businesses struggle to reach or maintain a full headcount.
Labor shortages are not only causing headaches for businesses, but they also threaten to stall industry-wide growth as well, according to the report. These shortages are coupled with industry growth, with more than 75% of the metropolitan areas tracked by the association experiencing the impact of a sluggish workforce. To cope, some firms have increased hourly rates and benefits. But the larger, more foundational problem of the skills gap must still be addressed.
AGC released a plan outlining steps federal officials can take to bolster construction workforce development. Those measures include increased funding for career and technical education, allowing more workers with construction skills to enter the country legally. AGC is also launching a digital recruitment campaign. Meanwhile, other companies are creating apprenticeships to attract and train young employees.
Here at JM Electrical, we have taken strides to attract more young people, who will be key contributors as we move forward.
Our company is proud to boast some of the most accomplished personnel in the industry. However, as an industry, we can’t become complacent and need to continue to look for new opportunities to grow and train our workforce. We are fortunate to have a strong partner in Local 103 and Wentworth Institute of Technology to aid in these efforts. People are and will continue to be our most valuable asset and we, as construction companies, must broaden our outreach to meet the current and future demand of our industry.
To learn more about our training program and career options, visit http://jmelectrical.com/.