by Marie King
2016 has been a stellar year for the construction industry. Retail construction grew by 24.4 %, and office and industrial building were also strong. Infrastructure rose 23.2% due to the fact that many roads and bridges need to be repaired or replaced. The one downside of this picture is that the construction industry is experiencing a labor shortage. Construction companies can’t find the skilled labor that they need.
Construction businesses have had a difficult time attracting the younger generations. GenX’s and Millennials don’t desire to have one of those construction jobs, where you sling a hammer for the next thirty years. They want a job that offers a career path. That means that they strive to have a job that will allow them to advance. That advancement may be a job that promotes them to a higher position or a lateral move, where they can learn new skills. Because GenX’s and Millennials have stayed out of the construction job market, their choice has made it difficult for construction companies to find skilled workers.
Another factor that contributes to the construction industry’s labor shortage is the retirement of Baby Boomers. The majority of Baby Boomers are in their sixties. Many of those workers have retired or will be retiring in the near future. When Baby Boomers retire, they take with them decades of knowledge and experience. That makes these Baby Boomers hard if not impossible to replace.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have deported more immigrants recently. The crackdown on illegals and overstays has motivated many Mexicans to return to their homeland. A number of these Mexicans worked in the construction industry. The new influx of immigrants is far less than those who have left. This leaves construction companies with less potential workers to choose from.
During the recession, the construction industry was hit hard. Many companies had to lay off workers. Other workers left to find a job in another industry. A large percentage of these workers never came back after the recession was over. The construction industry is still trying to replace these skilled workers with marginal success.
According to constructiondive.com, “The crippling recession and lingering labor shortage have spurred another trend among construction industry decision makers: Many are now being more cautious about the amount of new work they can handle, and about growing their companies.The labor shortage has left employers at all levels forced to take a closer look at the number and size of projects they can handle at once.”