Over three quarters of contractors struggle to find skilled workers — AGC

ConDig (27-Aug-19).  Over three quarters of US contractors face difficulties filling hourly craft positions, which has raised construction costs and pushed out project completion times, according to a survey by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Of the nearly 2,000 survey respondents, 80% said they are struggling to find qualified craft workers.

All four regions of the country are experiencing severe craft worker shortages, with 83% of contractors in the West and South reporting a tough time finding skilled workers, while almost 81% in the Midwest and 75% in the Northeast reported similar recruitment issues.

“Workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer. “However, construction labor shortages are a challenge that can be fixed, and this association will continue to do everything in its power to make sure that happens.”

Over two thirds of contractors expect that it will continue to be hard, or get even harder, to find hourly craft workers over the next 12 months amid concerns over the quality of the pipeline for recruiting and preparing new craft personnel.

It comes as a quarter also said that the pipeline for finding workers who can pass a drug test is poor.

Labor shortages are prompting many firms to boost pay and compensation, with two-thirds of firms reporting that they hiked base pay rates for craft workers, while 29% reported they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract craft workers. 

“Construction workforce shortages are prompting many firms to innovate their way to greater productivity,” said Allison Scott, head of construction integrated marketing at Autodesk. 

“As the cost of labor continues to increase and firms look to become even more efficient, technology can enable better collaboration and ultimately lead to more predictable outcomes. There is also opportunity in untapped pools of talent such as tradeswomen, veterans, and young people looking for an alternative to the traditional four-year university.”

The lack of skilled labor is also increasing construction costs, with nearly a third of companies reporting that they have raised construction prices and are putting longer completion times into their bids for new work because of the lack of workers — putting future development and infrastructure projects at risk.

Earlier this year, AGC called on Congress to back plans to roll out a temporary worker visa program for the construction industry.

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