Sure, the building business slowed down for a spell! Back in 2010 and 2011, things looked pretty bad for the Construction Industry. However, now it is on the rise, fast and furious. In many cities across our great nation, the building of residential and muti-residential homes can hardly keep up with the population booms! The Bureau of Labor & Statistics, & the U.S. Department of Labor, states that the construction industry has projected growth rate 12% faster than the average, for all occupations. The Construction Industry is now suffering a major gap in the skilled and unskilled labor force to keep up with work flow. Some businesses are having difficulty filling skilled labor positions, which in turn is preventing some delays in the completion of projects, according to the Bureau of Labor and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
Why is this happening now? Did they all disappear? Well if you look at the situation on the surface, it would appear to be so, but not really. When the Construction Industry bottomed out, so to speak, back in 2011, about 2.3 million construction jobs were lost. There were about 1 million less residential construction jobs to be had. Many of the skilled workers dropped out of the industry and never went back, some retired, and some went toward college educations and office jobs.
Now that we have discussed how history and statistics explains part of the decreased numbers of construction workers. Maybe we can touch on some reality.
It is tough to attract young workers when there is the perception that construction work is dirty. That is not perception…that is fact. But, what about when you create something from the ground up and get that feeling of personal pride? The personal satisfaction of a job well done? Construction does not always remain in the trenches. Learning and working a trade can lead to personal growth and self-education. Many individuals have become more, perhaps a Construction Estimator, or a Commercial Estimator.
Another factor that young people of today have noticed is that during the last recession, the construction industry suffered some periods of unemployment. What they do not see is that a national recession usually adversely affects every part of economy. In fact, residential construction and commercial construction is coming back quicker and stronger and will remain so for a long time.
The last thing that seems to stop our young people from going toward a construction career is the old song words, “Mothers, don’t let your children grow up to be construction workers…” (I always thought that was supposed to be ‘cowboys”) but someone changed the words! I understand that today’s parents want their children to go to college and get that high tech career that requires college and beyond, not to mention fighting for an entrance level position and $100,000 to $200,000 in debt or more. Learning a skill in the construction trades can lead to high paying position, sometimes quicker than climbing the corporate ladder, or maybe even owning your own company. With the growth in the Construction Industry, as it stands, opportunities in the field are growing, such as Job Estimating positions; Project Bidding, or Project Management.
So in answer to the question, where did all the American construction workers go? They are out there, but we all have to make a concerted effort to let the young people of America know that there is a place for them in this industry. A place that can offer them a good life, with a profitable future. Schools need to embrace the idea of bringing back trade classes for our high school students. Many young people cannot afford college; many have amazing hands-on-skills that are not being tapped for their potential. And for the record, having an education can only enhance the possibilities, as to how far an individual wants to grow in the Construction Industry. Thinkers and dreamers will always hold a secure position in creating our future; but since the beginning of time it was the ingenuity of the Builders and Construction Trades that raised villages to towns, and towns to cities. As the industry grows, it needs to cultivate a new crop of dedicated, educated, and hard working individuals to take on the challenge of this growing field. As family construction businesses built the America of our history, there needs to be new ‘families’ who are ready to build and transform the cities of the future so we can all live out our dreams. The Construction Industry needs to become a ‘generational industry’ in America once again.