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Survey Shows Texas Construction Companies Are Struggling to Find Workers

An astounding 83 percent of construction firms around the nation are having trouble finding enough workers and the numbers in Texas are even worse, according to a new survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America.

AGC surveyed 1,086 companies in late August and early September and said not only were the vast majority of them struggling to find craft workers, but 61% said the same about recruitment for key professional positions.  Drilling down into the Texas numbers, 90 percent of construction companies faced serious challenges in finding enough craft professionals and half of them are quickly losing workers to other industries.

“As the survey results make clear, many construction firms across the country are having a hard time filling available positions,” said Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America who also blogs regularly on Construction Citizen“Considering how much the nation’s educational focus has moved away from teaching students career and technical skills during the past few decades, it is easy to understand why the construction industry is facing such severe labor shortages,” Simonson said.

The poll found that the toughest jobs to fill were for roofing, ironworking, bricklaying and plumbing.

Among Texas construction companies, 35 percent said they’re having a hard time filling all key professional and craft positions.  Thirty-three percent said that was the case for some of their craft worker positions but they didn’t have any issues finding professional position candidates.  Only 5 percent of construction firms were having no trouble filling any positions, the survey found.

When asked to rate the overall quality of the local pipeline for training new construction craft workers, only 4 percent said “above average” and zero percent – yes, zero percent – said “excellent.”  Sixty-five percent said “below average” or “poor.”

Forty-eight percent of contractors reported that they had lost workers to other industries that were located in the same region.  But perhaps more telling was the number of companies that said some employees have quit and moved to another region to find employment in a different industry – thirty percent reported that they had experienced this.

You might be able to guess which industry was named as the top poacher of construction workers.  The Dallas Morning News Reported:

“Rising demand for oilfield workers has lured many construction employees out of the business in the last few years.  In Dallas-Fort Worth – where both commercial and residential building is booming – shortages of labor are increasing construction times and raising prices for buildings.”

This trend reflects just how right Construction Citizen blogger Pat Kiley was about a year ago when he wrote about the “war for talent,” as he put it:

“This battle for the right people is further intensified by players from outside our construction world.  The energy companies are looking for the same type person as our craft workers and engineers.  This has become exacerbated with the wonderful (for Houston and Texas) shale gas boom.  Shale drilling is much more labor intensive than the traditional methods of finding oil; consequently, these energy companies are raising the stakes for the high school graduate with some technical aptitude, that young person good with their head and hands.  They also want the college graduates with engineering degrees, as do many other industries.  So we have real tough competition from big, powerful and prosperous companies.”

Kiley laid out exactly what construction executives need to keep in mind and, more importantly, the kinds of things those executives need to be doing right now.  If you haven’t read his comments, The War for Talent: It Is Time to Up Our Game, it would be well worth your time.


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Odumbo's picture

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