Difficulty finding qualified craft workers is a near universal problem for the industry

Almost all of you are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released by Autodesk and AGC of America.

According to the survey, 80% of contractors nationally – and 89% in Washington State – report having a hard time filling some or all positions.

Association officials said shortages pose a significant risk to future economic growth and they released a new workforce development plan to solve the growing problem.

“Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread,” said Ken Simonson, AGC of America’s chief economist. “The best way to encourage continued economic growth, make it easier to rebuild aging infrastructure and place more young adults into high-paying careers is to address construction workforce shortages.”

Tight labor market conditions are prompting firms to change the way they operate, recruit and compensate workers, Simonson noted. Sixty-two percent of construction firms (58% in Washington State) report increasing base pay rates for craft workers because of the difficulty in filling positions. Twenty-four percent (20% in Washington State) have improved employee benefits for craft workers and 25% nationally and statewide report they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers.

The survey spotlighted some differences between national and Washington State construction markets. For example, nationally 53% of firms report that they always operate as open-shop, with 25% saying they always operated as a union contractor. In this state, 39% always operate as open shop, and 46% always operate as union contractors.

AGC of America also released a new Workforce Development Plan that identifies steps federal officials should take to support construction workforce development, including doubling the funding for career and technical education over five years and allowing more people with construction skills to legally enter the country. The plan also outlines new recruiting steps the association is taking, including launching a targeted digital advertising recruiting campaign and investing in innovative workforce solutions.