Construction Firms Report Shortage of Skilled Workers

September 5, 2013

According to results of an industry-wide survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 74 percent of construction firms report having trouble finding qualified workers to fill key roles.

“Many construction firms are already having a hard time finding qualified workers and expect construction labor shortages will only get worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of AGC. “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages.”

Nearly 700 construction firms participated in the survey, which was conducted during July and August 2013.

Of the responding firms reporting hiring challenges, most frequently reported difficulties are in filling onsite construction jobs such as carpenters, equipment operators and laborers. Fifty-three percent are having a hard time filling professional positions—especially project supervisors, estimators and engineers.

Most firms (86 percent) expect finding skilled craft workers will remain difficult or become more difficult to find qualified craft workers, while 72 percent believe the same about professional workers. Seventy-four percent of respondents report there are not enough qualified craft workers available to meet future demand while 49 percent said there weren’t enough construction professionals available.

Sandherr said that many firms report they are taking steps to prepare future construction workers. He noted that 48 percent of responding firms are mentoring future craft workers, 38 percent are participating in career fairs and 33 percent are supporting high school-level construction skills academies. In addition, 47 percent of responding firms are offering internships for construction professionals.

Sandherr said Congress needs to discard arbitrary caps on construction workers that were included in immigration reform the Senate passed earlier this year. He also urged elected and appointed officials to do more to ensure public school students have an opportunity to participate in programs that teach construction-related skills.