member survey

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.

Digital Skills Gap Amplified by Pandemic, AGC Survey Says


As construction industry workforce shortages have grown since the pandemic, so has the measurable gap in digital skills, according to a recent Associated General Contractors of America member survey.

The survey, conducted in July and August, polled 1,266 individuals associated with construction companies of all sizes from across the U.S. Survey findings revealed that 47 percent of firms are boosting internal spending on training and 25 percent are increasing their budget dedicated to online skills training. Companies are seeking to replace long-time workers who retired over the past two years as well as add positions to keep pace with increased project loads.

“More than one-half of all construction companies surveyed said they’re engaging with career-building programs offered by universities, training centers and other educators,” said Allison Scott, director of construction thought leadership and customer marketing at Autodesk, developer of design and make technology for architecture, engineering and construction firms. “A total of 16 percent reported that they’re using augmented reality and virtual reality to help train their workers.”

The industry’s increased demand for those experienced in using construction technology is putting the squeeze on already tight workforce supply. “Digital nomads,” defined by Scott as those who have not yet adopted construction technology, are recruiting hard to attract digital natives, those who’ve been using construction technology since its inception.

In addition to AR and VR, examples of sought-after construction technology skills include fluency in estimating software, building information modeling, mobile apps, construction management software and drone operation.

“Trying to stay ahead of the curve is extremely challenging for construction companies that haven’t consistently adopted industry technology as it has been introduced,” said Scott. “Future growth of their companies depends upon it.”

AGC of America Chief Economist Ken Simonson agrees.

“It will take time to see companies’ training initiative bear fruit,” he said. “Right now, too few people are prepared to work in this industry.”