Most construction firms in Indiana say they’re having a hard time filling trades positions, according to a report released Wednesday. It’s part of a national shortage of qualified construction workers.
The Associated General Contractors of America surveyed construction firms across the country.
They found that 72 percent of Indiana firms are having a hard time filling job openings, especially for the hourly positions that make up the bulk of construction work. That's close to the national and Midwest rate of 80 percent.
AGCA Chief Economist Ken Simonson says job openings have soared in recent months, while the number of unemployed construction workers is down.
"In other words, contractors are spending longer filling jobs and have fewer experienced workers to choose from," he says.
The shortages are evident across most construction fields, but Hoosier firms report having the most difficulty filling jobs for concrete workers, electricians, and pipelayers.
Simonson says construction firms are already making changes to workforce training and salaries to address the problem.
And he says organizations like the AGCA are trying to change public perception of construction jobs through marketing and social media efforts.
"Construction is not just that dirty, dangerous, dead end career that some people may think of," Simonson says. "It provides a great opportunity to use cool tools, technology of many kinds."
But he says current efforts are not enough to turn the tide.
The AGCA recommends more government efforts to address the problem, including more funding for workforce development and reforming higher education.
"We also call for long overdue reforms to the nation’s immigration laws that will allow, among other things, more people with construction skills to legally enter the country," Simonson says.
The organization's revised Workforce Development Plan points to firms across the country that they say are creatively addressing the shortage through education efforts.