- Construction companies added to their payrolls in 26 states from August to September according to the Associated General Contractors of America. That change is partially attributable to the need for rebuilding efforts following recent hurricanes. Year-over-year, construction jobs increased in 35 states and Washington, DC.
- California led the charge by adding 44,600 jobs, followed by Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Florida. Fourteen states lost construction jobs during the period while Idaho's employment remained stagnant.
- AGC officials said numbers would have been higher in many parts of the U.S. if more qualified workers were available, urging elected and appointed officials to encourage young adults to pursue careers in construction.
The labor shortage has been a hot topic since the industry lost 2.3 million members during the last recession. And construction doesn't appear to be seeing any relief from that shortage soon. The industry frequently discusses solutions, but so far nothing has been a cure-all — some are adjusting how they do business, operating with leaner staff, paying more for the talent they do have and reaching beyond their geographic regions.
Policymakers, too, are beginning to understand their role in helping construction overcome its struggle with finding qualified workers. Part of that acknowledgement, some have noted, comes from interesting young people in the trades by educating them about the option.
Colorado, for one, instated a law earlier this year that requires high school counselors to talk to students about jobs in skilled labor and as military personnel. In 2015, a record 125,000 high schoolers and 20,000 middle schoolers enrolled in career and technical education courses.
California is investing $6 million in a campaign to boost vocational education's reputation, in addition to $200 million to improve its teaching, PBS reported. Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce reports the U.S. has 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year without a bachelor’s degree. More still, the U.S. Department of Education reports those who pursue technical educations are somewhat more likely to be employed than those with academic degrees and significantly more likely to be employed in their fields of study.
Although boosting awareness of skilled trades can be effective, recruiting students can be expensive. Just ask Wisconsin. Western Technical College has produced 200 welders in the past four years, effectively ending southwestern Wisconsin’s labor shortage. But expanding the training facility was part of an $80 million campus improvement program that came in addition to buying special training equipment and hiring more instructors through securing special grants.