A recent (September 16, 2013) edition of Engineering News Record (ENR) contained three articles that were fascinatingly related. First, an economics piece stating that the jobless rate in the construction industry has “leveled off” at 9.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Only residential construction and heavy civil work added jobs. Also according to the BLS, architectural and engineering services lost jobs for the second month in a row. Then, on the same page, a report that the Dodge Momentum Index, which measures non-residential projects entering the planning stages, has increased after being stagnant the two months prior. So, our industry has higher jobless rates than the rest of the economy, but projects and worker needs are starting to pick up again.
A few pages later, I read a full page article indicating that shortages of craft workers and engineers “plague contractors”. Firms state they cannot find enough qualified talent to execute the work on hand. But, there is a 9.1% jobless rate in the industry as a whole.
Furthermore, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America conducted a survey with approximately 700 respondents. Seventy-four percent said they had a shortage in skilled crafts and others said that engineers and estimators would be in the highest demand due to shortages. One consultant determined that by 2020, America would lose one-million construction workers, while growth would demand another one-million workers – or a two-million net shortfall… So who is going to engineer and build our projects?
Associating these statistics and projections with all the other challenges in today’s job market, reveals some key takeaways for us to consider:
A lot of people gave up looking for work in construction and/or moved to another field. I have a 30-year old nephew in Chicago who was an iron worker, but is now in nursing school. He said it was to ensure more stability for his family.
There is still a lot of work to be had out there and the need for qualified help is significant and growing.
Mid-to-longer term, over the next six to seven years, the competition for good people, including engineers and trades people, will be fierce.
It is important for the continued success of our industry that we all do what we can to promote the interest of these professions to today’s youth. It is a noble occupation to create environments for the success of our society.
For those seeking a job in the design-build industry, check out Austin’s Careers page for information and new opportunities at our growing company.
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
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