WASHINGTON, May 21—According to the results of Associated Builders and Contractors 2020 Workforce Development Survey, ABC contractor members invested $1.5 billion on workforce development initiatives in 2019, providing craft, leadership and safety education to 1.1 million course attendees to advance their careers in commercial and industrial construction. Safety education accounted for nearly half of the total workforce investment, averaging $1,147 per employee annually.

“Year over year, ABC members are dedicated to investing in essential safety education and professional development for craft and management professionals, as well as comprehensive apprenticeship programs to attract the next generation of craft professionals,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “As we rise to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce, our members are reaching out to populations typically underrepresented in our industry, investing in alternative education models, such as online platforms, and continuously working on new solutions to engage a safe, productive workforce.”

At 85%, the vast majority of ABC member contractors use on-the-job education as part of their workforce development program for craft professionals, with an increase in online education opportunities in 2019. Approximately two-thirds of contractors reported partnerships with high school and college career and technical education internship programs, and contractors with independent apprenticeship programs reported an average of 35 enrollees. 

In addition, nearly 90% of ABC’s 69 chapters reported recruiting veterans and women into the industry was a top priority. In 2019, women made up an average of 16% of management or supervisory positions for ABC members and 13% of craft professionals. 

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has paused or altered some construction projects across the country, ABC estimated 550,000 construction professionals need to be hired in 2020 to meet existing backlog, which stood at 7.8 months in April, according to ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator survey. While the employment needs of the merit shop construction workforce are in flux as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, ABC members remain committed to recruiting, educating and upskilling craft and management professionals.

Industry consulting firm FMI conducted the 2020 Workforce Development Survey from Jan. 8 to Feb. 18, 2020, to quantify the scope of workforce development initiatives by ABC member contractors.