The construction industry is facing unprecedented labor shortages, but this is not new. Just 13 years ago there were approximately 2.3 million positions available, and today, there are 11 million.
This shortage has experts scrambling to come up with solutions or face the inevitable fallout, which may include crumbling infrastructure, massive construction delays, and canceled projects.
Ed Brady, CEO of the Home Builders Institute said:
“The construction industry needs more than 61,000 new hires every month, if we are to keep up with both industry growth and the loss of workers either through retirement or simply leaving the sector for good. From 2022 through 2024, this total represents a need for an additional 2.2 million new hires for construction. That’s a staggering number.”
Mike Rowe, Fox Business personality and “How America Works” narrator, believes that every single American will feel the impact of the labor shortage in the construction industry, saying:
"This is no longer a matter of a skills gap or a few million people unemployed and employers frustrated because of the mismatching skills, this is a matter of national security."
For many construction owners, these numbers represent a sobering reality. What will happen to the construction industry as a whole?
How Labor Shortages Are Affecting the Construction Industry
Currently, 88% of construction firms are experiencing project delays, with reasons ranging from:
- Shortages of material
- Delivery delays
- Workforce shortages
- Longer lead times
- Lack of approvals or inspectors; and
- Owner’s directive to stop the project
89% of contractors also report having a hard time filling hourly craft positions, and 86% have difficulty filling salaried positions.
What does this mean for contractors?
Many have increased spending on professional development, while most firms report rising base pay rates or providing incentives and hiring bonuses.
Allison Scott, director of construction thought leadership and customer marketing at Autodesk, said:
“Challenges often drive resolve, and we started to see this acutely in the construction industry last year. The continued investments in hiring, training and technology highlighted in this year’s study show that even while dealing with ongoing challenges nearly two years into the pandemic, the industry remains committed to building better with a resilient workforce.”
Officials at the Construction Association are also calling on Washington leaders to take steps to invest in career and technical education.
What Can Be Done to Solve This Issue?
According to Forbes, the future doesn’t have to be dire. By attracting individuals to the trades and training while also retaining construction industry workers, we can overcome the labor shortage issue.
Here’s what they suggest:
Collaboration with higher education institutions and global businesses will drive opportunities for hands-on learning in the trades. A new curriculum, tech labs, and access to mentorship and internship will play an important role in providing young people with the skills required to succeed.
Refine Apprenticeship Programs
Apprenticeships are a critical building block to a career in the trades, and these programs are growing in popularity, with a 70% increase between 2011 and 2020.
However, the American model for apprentice programs may not be as efficient in developing well-rounded and skilled tradespeople. American companies may benefit from taking a closer look at the robust apprenticeship programs of Europe.
Not only are these programs integrated into Europe’s overall education system, but they receive widespread support from union and institutional stakeholders. More than 60% of German engineers come from an apprenticeship background.
Offer Returnship Programs
Returnships, similar to internships, are designed to ease workers into re-entering the workforce if they’ve taken any significant amount of time off. These paid programs may last from a few weeks to a few months and offer experienced workers with highly sought-after skills a refresher on the latest skills and technology required for the job.
These programs promote workplace diversity, while tapping into unused talent, and will go a long way toward improving work shortages in the construction industry.
How the Hammr App Is Helping to Solve the Construction Labor Shortage One Employee at a Time
Hammr is on a mission to build a global platform that empowers the people who build our world by elevating the construction workforce and helping workers find success in their careers.
Their goal is to abolish the stigma around the trades by building tools that allow the workforce to find better job opportunities and build their skills.
Members can post their work, build a reputation, and engage in discussions that positively support the community.
Think of Hammr as the LinkedIn of the construction industry — a community dedicated to connected tradespeople with potential employers and vice versa.