The U.S. economy is moving towards a rise in knowledge-based jobs with a focus on analytical and social skills, according to a new study from the Washington, D.C.–based Pew Research Center.
In the last 25 years, jobs in the education field have grown 105%, while construction jobs have grown only 22%.
American workers, according to Pew, are beginning to question the need for a college degree, but more than half acknowledge that they will need lifelong training and skill updates to stay current with their career requirements.
The low-growth numbers for construction and other physically demanding fields, noted MarketWatch, does not mean that there is a reduced demand for workers but that the number of workers has remained relatively constant.
What does this mean for construction? There will always be a need for AEC professionals, as well as field workers who build structures. Career and technical schools have long touted the construction industry as an opportunity with a more focused, less time consuming career pathway, which can reap workers higher pay than their college counterparts, as well as little or no student debt, depending on the program. In a recent LendingTree survey, nearly two-thirds of millennials reported that they have or will have student debt, impacting their decision to purchase a home or upgrade to a larger property. Career program advocates claim that such training programs can help ease entry into homeownership and allow workers to start saving for retirement and other goals early on in their careers.
The construction industry, particularly industry groups including the Associated General Contractor of America, is an advocate of career training. The AGC has said that more secondary and post-secondary programs are needed in to meet the challenges posed by an aging workforce. The AGC is currently pushing for increased government funding for these programs. In an August AGC survey, seven in 10 contractors said they had difficulty finding skilled, hourly workers; 75% said that they believe that they will have difficulty finding enough qualified workers in 2017.