Contractors Grapple with Critical Worker Shortage
Today, the AGC of Missouri, government and civic leaders gathered at North Technical High School in Florissant to celebrate BuildMO Week, Oct. 2-6, a week-long celebration of the construction industry in Missouri. Part of the Special School District, North Technical High School provides Career and Technical Education (CTE) that prepares students for continuing education and the workforce.
Leonard Toenjes, CAE, president, AGC of Missouri, spoke about the economic impact of construction on Missouri’s economy and welcomed St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger; Thomas P. Schneider, Mayor, City of Florissant; and Tom Heeger, Co-Chair, St. Louis Construction Cooperative.
Toenjes noted that construction is a major driver of Missouri’s economy, employing more than 118,700 in August (seasonally adjusted) persons throughout the state. View here :
In 2016, U.S. GDP totaled $18.6 trillion; construction contributed $784 billion (4.2 percent). In Missouri, construction contributed $11 billion (3.7 percent) of the state’s GDP of $301 billion. Construction wages and salaries in 2016 totaled $408 billion in the U.S., including $7.0 billion in Missouri. The U.S. had 682,000 construction firms in 2015, of which 92 percent employed fewer than 20 workers. Missouri had 13,000 construction firms in 2015, of which 91 percent were small (fewer than 20 employees.) SOURCE: AGC of America: State of Missouri Economic Report, Sept. 26, 2017
Toenjes also noted that a “perfect storm is forming in our industry.” He said that, due to retirements, demographics and the 2008 downturn in the economy, a shortage of trained construction workers has reached critical levels in Missouri and throughout the country. Results from a recent workforce survey by AGC of America indicate the shortage threatens to hold back the entire U.S. economy.
“Seventy-one percent of Missouri contractors recently surveyed noted they are having difficulty filling some hourly craft positions and 20 percent report they are having difficulty filling some salaried field positions,” noted Toenjes. “Forty-one percent report they are having difficulty filling some office salaried positions.” View Missouri Workforce Survey results at: <https://www.agc.org/sites/default/files/Files/Communications/2017_Workforce_Survey_Missouri.pdf> https://www.agc.org/sites/default/files/Files/Communications/2017_Workforce_Survey_Missouri.pdf
“This is why the career and technical education programs provided at North Technical High School and other schools throughout our state are so important,” added Toenjes. “The hiring situation is very favorable right now for students trained in the trades. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, construction and extraction employment is projected to grow 10 percent between 2014 and 2024. And, according to new data released last week by the AGC of America, in 2016, annual pay of all construction workers in the U.S. averaged $58,600, 10 percent more than the average for all private sector employees. Construction workers’ pay in Missouri averaged $56,000, 20 percent more than all private sector employees in the state.
“Construction is an excellent career path for today’s young people,” added Toenjes. “New technologies like Building Information Modeling, drones, innovative building methods and new materials are transforming the way we design and build everything. The sky’s the limit for a young person entering our industry today.”
North Technical recently updated its construction curriculum to ensure that students see many career paths in the industry during their first year. By rotating through immersive, real-world projects in four core areas of carpentry, construction trades, electrical trades, and HVAC, North Technical students choose their second year curriculum with focus and purpose.
“The Construction Innovation structure at North Tech allows students to maintain interest in the first year of the Construction Trades Programs by exposing them to nine week bursts of interesting projects and equipment function,” said Dr. David Baker, Assistant Superintendent of College and Career Readiness for Special School District. “These are 16- and 17- year-old young men and women and we must gain their interest in the field before we can prepare them to move forward as part of the construction workforce. The program is dependent upon the strength of our instructors and their sincere interest in student success and competence in their respective fields is what ensures program success.”
BuildMO Week activities began yesterday with a news conference at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, MO, with officials announcing establishment of a new AGCMO student chapter at OTC. Additional AGCMO networking and training events also are scheduled throughout the week. Students from North Technical High School’s Culinary Program provided refreshments for the St. Louis kickoff event.
The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri represents the united voice of the construction industry throughout the state of Missouri. AGC of Missouri represents over 525 commercial, industrial, heavy and highway contractors, industry partners and related firms in 110 counties across the state of Missouri. AGC of Missouri operates offices in St. Louis and Jefferson City. Visit: <http://www.agcmo.org> www.agcmo.org