According to a survey of ABC members, 75 percent of respondents’ companies are experiencing a shortage of willing and qualified craft professionals. These results support the findings of the Construction Labor Market Analyzers’ 20/20 Foresight Report, which shows there will be a nationwide shortage of nearly 2 million skilled craft workers by 2017.
The worker shortage is likely the result of the nearly 30 percent of the construction workforce lost at the peak of the recession combined with an aging workforce, an insufficient pipeline of new workers and lost workers that moved on to other industries.
ABC and its 70 chapters have been working hard to close that gap through a combined effort of training, promoting construction as a viable career path and working with federal legislators to increase access to temporary workers.
ABC also supports U.S. immigration policy reform that facilitates a sustainable workforce. ABC and its members are encouraging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support a bill that includes an effective guest worker program that responds to labor market demand and does not burden the construction industry with inflexible requirements and arbitrary caps. The industry must be able to legally supplement its workforce when there are not a sufficient number of willing or able American workers to continue to meet U.S. construction demand.
In addition, ABC rewards exceptional craft trainees at its annual National Craft Championships, an intense two-day event, during which young men and women compete in one of 13 competitions representing 11 crafts. Information on how to get involved with the 2014 National Craft Championships is available online.
ABC also hosts a Student Chapter Construction Management Competition that allows construction management students to compete in a bid-day format that uses real-life examples of projects and scores them on their presentations.
To share the success about all of these efforts and promote merit shop training, ABC recently launched a blog, WorkforceUnderConstruction.com. The site contains information for high school students that shows the value of considering a career in construction, compared to the traditional route of attending a four-year college. It also includes personal stories, such as a look into Luke Fosket’s career as a foreman, and Holley Thomas’ story as a 2013 National Craft Championships competitor who got into construction after taking a welding class at college while completing her robotics degree.
And then there are the stories of industry leaders creating innovative partnerships to achieve their goals, including Louisiana’s Course Choice Program, ABC of San Diego’s Apprenticeship Collaboration with the U.S. Navy, and the ABC Greater Michigan Chapter’s innovative partnership with area community organizations to teach the trades.
Visit WorkforceUnderConstruction.com to discover ways to get involved and to send in a story.