AGC Survey ID’s Skills Deficits, Failed Drug Tests as Factors in Applicant Shortages


Few candidates have the basic skills needed to work in high-paying construction careers, forcing short-staffed contractors to find new ways to keep pace with demand, according to the results of a workforce survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk.

“Eight-five percent of companies surveyed – firms with under $50 million to more than $500 million in annual revenues – reported that they’ve got open positions they’re trying to fill,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson, “and 88 percent of these employers are having trouble filling at least some of these positions, particularly those associated with craft trades.”

The latest workforce survey, completed by 1,401 respondents, also captured a startling metric regarding illicit drug use among construction job applicants, according to Simonson.

“Fully one-third of candidates applying for construction industry positions cannot pass a drug test,” he said. “And 68 percent of firms surveyed said applicants lack basic, necessary reading and mathematics knowledge.”

In line with these sentiments, 41 percent of construction companies surveyed told the AGC they’re boosting spending on training and development.

Allison Scott, director of customer experience and industry advocacy at Autodesk, says the construction industry’s increasing adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics is manifesting greater career opportunities for new hires and existing employees.

“For potential hires, a career opportunity in construction should mean an opportunity to work with advanced technology and perform safe, meaningful work,” Scott said. “As firms adopt more digital technologies and create stronger classroom and training pathways, we’ll begin to see a new generation enter the industry equipped with the tools and skills needed to tackle construction’s largest challenges.”

For detailed survey materials including national, regional and state fact sheets, survey analysis and more, click here.

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