USG Survey Highlights Challenges of Skilled Labor Shortage

Reskill the Future Workforce

The latest report from USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirm what contractors have known for a long time: It is difficult to find skilled labor.

The "Q1 2019 USG Corporation & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index" highlights the fact that the skilled labor shortage continues to pose major challenges to the industry.

Implications for contractors, according to the report, include the following: 81 percent of contractors are asking current skilled workers to do more work, 70 percent of contractors struggle to meet deadlines, 63 percent of contractors experience increased costs for new work and 40 percent of contractors actually end up rejecting new projects because of the lack of skilled labor available for these projects.

Respondents to the survey tended to blame the current skilled labor shortage on a number of myths that exist about commercial building industry jobs. Specifically, 61 percent of contractors believe there is an inaccurate perception that construction jobs are all "dirty" jobs, 55 percent believe that there is an inaccurate perception that construction jobs require only "brute strength," and 52 percent believe that there is an inaccurate perception that construction is "just a job," rather than a career.

These contractors believe that these inaccurate perceptions need to be cleared up by emphasizing that workers can earn good pay, that there are opportunities for advancement and that the ability to learn new skills can attract new talent. Contractors also believe that the increasing technology being used on job sites is another way to attract the next generation of workers to the skilled construction workforce.

Contractors also tended to agree that the best way to increase the skilled workforce is to find ways to increase enrollments in technical schools and vocational training.

"A better reputation for compensation, apprenticeship programs, and opportunities for advancement were also cited as ways to recruit more workers, particularly those under the age of 30, into commercial construction," the report states.

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