In 2018, OE Construction participated in a workforce survey of construction firms conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The findings were recently released and show an overall positive outlook for the future of construction. For OE Construction, the future of construction has always meant creating opportunities for driven, young people.
The majority of responding construction firms reported plans to grow their team with the expectation of hiring an additional hourly employee reported over 75% and hiring a salaried employee over 60%. This increase in craft personnel is a direct reflection of the growth in the construction industry. Construction firms – OE Construction included – continue to anticipate that the demand for all types of construction services will continue to expand.
Despite this positive outlook and a need for new hires, 80% of construction firms reported that they are having a hard time filling some or all positions. This growing workforce shortage has made it difficult to find qualified candidates, leading to some firms recruiting workers who lack the necessary skills or experience. This is a huge red flag for workplace safety, as 52% of construction firms reported it will become harder to hire and 31% reported it would continue to be difficult.
At OE Construction, safety is one of our core values that drives our company mission. It is why we train in and support the STOP™ (Safety Training Observation Program) program on every job site. Workplace safety is just one of the many reasons that OE Construction believes in investing in the next generation. OE Construction has been active in CONSTRUCTION CAREERS NOW, a program which provides free education and training to individuals who are interested in joining the construction industry.
Programs like this provide men and women with limited knowledge about the construction trades an opportunity to join a growing industry that offers incredible benefits to its employees. Like other construction firms that reported to the AGC workforce survey, OE Construction is not only hiring but innovating personnel programs to remain competitive within the industry.
According to the AGC workforce survey, 70% of firms have increased base rate pay and 40% have provided incentives or bonuses for hourly workers. Likewise, 69% have increased base rate pay and 57% have provided incentives or bonuses for salaried employees. Additionally, 39% of construction firms have improved employee benefits in the last year due to difficulty filling positions.
Due to the workforce shortage in qualified new hires, the industry has become more competitive internally. Of the 85% firms that reported losing hourly craft or salaried personnel to other employers, 64% reported that they were losing workers to other construction firms vs 21% to other industries. Losing personnel compounded by the difficulty in finding replacement hires has forced construction firms to get creative with their hiring process.
The majority of construction firms reported adding or increasing their use of recruitment platforms to include engaging with career-building programs, hiring a recruitment firm, outsourcing to unemployment agencies, and more. In order to address these shortage issues, 54% of construction firms have implemented or increased in-housing training and 35% have developed an internship program. Both are great opportunities for the next generation to find lucrative and rewarding careers in the construction industry.
These staffing challenges have also impacted projects. In such a competitive industry, bidding with the lowest price in the shortest possible time without sacrificing safety or operating consults is challenging enough. Of surveyed firms, 63% responded that projects have taken longer than anticipated and 59% reported that costs have been higher than anticipated. As a result of this, 49% of construction firms have put higher prices into their bids or contracts and 37% have put longer completion times into their bids or contracts.
Clearly, workforce issues can have a tremendous impact on individual construction firms as well as the construction industry as a whole. Here at OE Construction, we anticipate more programs like the Construction Careers Now program available on the Emily Griffith Technical College campus popping up all over the country. Their 4-week Introduction to Construction Careers curriculum is the perfect model for other state schools and technical colleges to emulate.
Programs like Construction Careers Now offer mentorships and apprenticeships that allow individuals to begin earning a living in their chosen career while they’re still studying. These programs also connect graduating students with hiring construction companies like OE Construction, that allow qualified individuals to easily transition from the course to an internship or entry-level position. From there, driven and hard-working employees are regularly promoted.
Programs that offer these types of pathways also help bring diversity and a new perspective to the industry as a whole. According to the AGC workforce survey, women and veterans make up less than 25% of the workforce while disabled and formerly incarcerated have grown to encompass 50% of the workforce. And while White and Hispanic make up the majority of the workforce, African American, Asian, and Native American/Indigenous workforce are also growing.
While this survey shares facts and figures that illustrate the growth of the industry and challenges we face, it is only part of the picture. This survey serves as a representation of the industry like a sliver of an entire pie, but it’s a great peek into the current trends and direction of the industry. Of course, it doesn’t do justice to the optimism and excitement present in the construction community, especially that we feel here at OE Construction.