The construction industry is in the midst of a skilled workers shortage across all lines of work. It affects design and construction professionals along with trade craftsmen.
Skilled workers have left the industry as a result of the economic downturn, an aging workforce, and insufficient pipeline of younger workers. The overall economy masked the shortage since there was less work.
Now that we are back in a growth mode, the shortage is more evident as people switch companies for better opportunities and increased compensation – whether it is design and construction professionals or trade craftsmen.
Creating Construction Opportunities for Students
There are a variety of programs available trying to make a difference. Two programs I am involved with in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area are ABC Schools to Careers and The ACE Mentor Program.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), our local Raleigh-Durham Chapter, created the ABC Carolinas Schools to Careers committee. The committee teamed local general contractors and subcontractors with local Wake County high schools to serve as mentors and increase awareness and promote interest in construction-related careers.
This will be an ongoing partnership between the contractors and high schools to continually educate students about the construction industry.
As part of the partnership with local high schools, they hosted an annual shed building competition. The Students’ Hands-on Experience Day (S.H.E.D) allowed high school drafting and carpentry students to compete in a shed design and building competition.
The drafting competition consisted of creating framing plans and exterior elevations for a 8’0″ x 11’6″ shed. A panel of local architects judged the drafting competition and determined the design winner. The design winners were awarded laptops capable of supporting their school’s drafting software.
Following the S.H.E.D design competition, high school carpentry students competed over a 2-day period to build the winning design. The general contractor and subcontractor team partners were responsible for mentoring their high school teams prior to and throughout the build, but did not assist in the actual build. Mentoring consisted of educating students about safety, quality, planning, communication, and scheduling. The S.H.E.D building competition was judged by local building inspectors and safety officers from various construction companies.