The Top 5 Most Difficult Construction Jobs to Fill

AGC surveyed its membership on the topic.

Source : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

January 25, 2023

Author : Alex Bustillos

Labor shortage have been plaguing the American construction industry for the past few years. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has brought in $550 billion in government infrastructure investment, creating a demand for roughly 300,000 to 600,000 new workers every year.

According to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) survey of its members, 91% of contractors had difficulty filling positions last year. Experts warn the labor shortage for these positions isn't going away anytime soon.

This labor supply shortfall has several reasons, some short-term and cyclical in form, while others are more structural. Many employees of the baby-boomer generation retired earlier as a result of the pandemic.

Furthermore, the pipeline of new construction employees is less open than it once was. Training programs have been delayed or suspended. Overseas labor, a key source of talent for engineering, design, and contracting activities is becoming more difficult to attract.

AGC respondents had the most difficulty filling hourly craft positions for pipelayers; 89% of contractors reported difficulty filling those positions. Even though glaziers were the easiest job to fill, as the outlet Construction Dive reports, 70% of respondents reported difficulty obtaining personnel in those roles.

Salaried roles, such as architects, engineers, and estimating employees, are easier to fill. However, 81% of organizations struggled to find project managers/supervisors, and 77?ttled to find estimating personnel. Half had difficulty with critical duties such as safety personnel.

"We continue to be faced with the challenge of hiring superintendents and skilled craft labor," Alison Tripp, national recruiting lead for Redwood City, California-based DPR Construction, explained.

The labor shortage is delaying projects, while almost doubling mean wages for construction workers has increased project budgets. 

The top 5 most difficult construction jobs to fill were:

  • Carpenters
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Construction Managers
  • Mechanics

Contractor News has previously reported on a huge demand for skilled carpenters. With wood being the most common building material for residential homes and a lack of automation, skilled carpenters are highly valuable but rare to come across. 

The above-mentioned jobs need skilled laborers and are highly labor intensive, making it difficult to find a competent workforce. 

Tripp believes the labor shortfall is unlikely to improve anytime soon and that when the experienced staff retires, the sector will confront a problem in finding, recruiting, training, and retaining workers and potential superintendents. A scarcity of staff on any one task might hinder a project. Tripp believes that construction companies will continue to improve worker compensation and benefits. Furthermore, the number of women in construction has increased, which Tripp attributes to attempts to open the door wider and recruit from a larger pool. 

Also, many people are hesitant to enter the construction industry because of the lack of uniform, year-long work which other professions offer. Stability in these economically uncertain times is essential.

Category : Contractor Trades Entrepreneurialism Market Watch

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