Skilled Labor Shortage Spurs Action From Construction Industry

While careers in the trades can be lucrative and fulfilling, the construction industry is having a tough time finding people willing to pursue them.

A skilled labor shortage in the U.S. construction industry has been a problem for more than a decade now. The industry lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the recession that followed the 2008 housing crisis and never fully recovered.  COVID-19 only worsened the problem.

As it stands today, the Home Builder Institute predicts the industry needs to add 2.2 million more workers in the next three years to keep up with demands for housing.

This gap prompted action from members of the construction industry. American Home Shield recently announced an initiative to address the skilled labor shortage, releasing a video featuring testimonials from notable figures in the trades.

The American Home Shield initiative spotlights people who found fulfilling careers in the trades. Its purpose: Increasing interest in the field as a career option for young people looking to join the workforce and others seeking a career change.

“There is a ton of opportunity to enter — or re-enter — the workforce with the skills that keep our homes and economy running,” said Kansas City-based handyman Matt Blashaw. “And I’m proud to join American Home Shield in the celebration and support of the skilled trades.”

The video also highlights opportunities for women in the skilled trades, showcasing several who made careers in construction. Women currently make up less than five percent of the construction workforce. Creating more opportunities for young women and appealing more to women in general could provide a significant boost.

“With careers in the skilled trades, I found empowerment and opportunity that I would love to see more girls and young women pursue,” said Mina Starsiak Hawk.

Of course, the skilled labor shortage is not unique to the construction industry. A recent survey showed nearly 47 percent of the surveyed businesses reported a shortage of skilled workers in the third quarter of this fiscal year.

The need for skilled workers is felt broadly across the U.S., and addressing that need might require some larger systemic changes. Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, recently released a statement calling on the federal government to invest more in the development and education of the skilled trades workforce.

“The federal government currently spends only one dollar on career training for every six it puts into college prep, despite the fact only one in three jobs requires a college degree,” Sandherr said. “Boosting federal investments in career and technical education will help attract and prepare more people into high-paying careers in construction.”

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