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Craft Positions Difficult to Fill for Contractors

September 16, 2015

Craft workers on a job siteNearly the entire construction industry is facing worker shortages, with companies complaining they have more open positions than there are workers to fill them.

Demand for construction has rebounded in recent years, but the available workforce hasn't responded in kind. And for those looking for specialty workers, or craft workers, the struggle is even greater to find good candidates.

According to a recent survey and analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) this month, nearly four out of five contractors (79 percent) are having trouble filling hourly craft professional positions. And 52 percent are struggling to fill craft salaried positions, based on 1358 responses. 

Of 21 crafts listed in the AGC survey, 73 percent of organizations reported they were trying to fill spots for carpenters. Sheet metal installers (65 percent), concrete workers (63 percent), and electricians (60 percent) were also being heavily sought after, often without luck.

And even traffic control personnel, generally the most available category for houly workers, was reported as hard to find by 26 percent of respondents. 

The AGC reported that project managers and supervisors were the most difficult salaried positions to fill, with 55 percent of respondents saying they were having trouble, followed by estimators and engineers at 43 and 34 percent, respectively. 

Many companies said they had lost their craft workers to other construction firms in their area (36 percent for hourly and 24 for salaried workers), while others said they were lost to firms outside their area or to other industries. And more than half felt it would be as difficult -- or even more so -- to find workers to replace them in the next year. Many cited the quality of the local training for new hourly craft workers as below average (33 percent) or poor (17 percent) -- although only 21 percent said the same for salaried workers.

But organizations are taking steps to woo the right skilled workers to their companies. 

To attract and retain workers, 56 percent of firms say they are increasing base pay rates for hourly workers, while 48 percent say the same for hourly employees. Bonuses and increases are also going up for almost 30 percent of all respondents' firms, and 23 percent are improving or increasing contributions to employee benefits. Others are increasing overtime pay to entice workers to stay.

Nearly half of firms reported they will be increasing the use of subcontractors (43 percent), while 33 percent said they are employing staffing companies to help them find workers. Labor-saving equipment and machinery (19 percent), lean construction (13 percent), offsite prefabrication (9 percent), unions (9 percent) and building information modeling (7 percent) were also cited as tactics firms were using to get around the shortage.

If your firm is looking for craft workers, try the Construction Job Board, where companies can post your open positions and potential hires can search and apply for openings based on type, location, and more.

View the Job Board