In November 2022, for the second year in a row the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) gathered hundreds of professionals working in construction workforce development to share best practices and brainstorm ideas on how to meet continued labor challenges in the industry. The timing couldn’t be more relevant as labor shortages will likely continue to affect all areas of construction in the coming years.
According to AGC, job openings in construction at the end of 2022 totaled 359,000, the highest December total in 23 years of data. What’s more, association officials said the industry likely would have added even more jobs if firms could find more people to hire, noting that 80% of firms in the association’s recent survey reported having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire.
AGC’s Construction Industry Workforce Summit focused on ways to combat this shortage, including focusing on topics related to creating the construction workforce of the future, like how the industry is working with high schools and career and technical education to prime younger people to enter the industry. It also looks at recruiting from diverse and new populations. AGC shared its findings in its 2022 National Construction Industry Workforce Summit Report, which was produced with support from Arcoro.
2022 Session Topics About the Future of Construction
Session topics about how to create the construction workforce of the future included:
- Engaging the Future Workforce through School to Work Experiences
- Sharing Experiences and Resources with Career and Technical (CTE) Education Programs
- Meeting the Need for Apprenticeship Training
- Targeted Diversity: Strategies for Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
- Re-entering the Civilian Workforce: the Veteran and Criminal Justice Opportunity
- Partnerships that Support Workforce Initiatives
Each of the sessions gave attendees the opportunity to discuss challenges, share ideas and successful efforts. Below are just a couple of the great ideas shared in the session on Engaging the Future Workforce through School to Work Experiences.
Engaging the Future Workforce through School to Work Experiences
Capturing students before they enter the workforce, and educating them about the value of construction careers, is an essential part of securing workers in the future. As more construction workers retire, it’s increasingly important to attract young people to the industry.
In this summit session, the focus was that supporting youth employment opportunities must be done with the help of a range of partners.
According to the report, “Firms need to be organized in their efforts to engage both educators and students, involve multiple partners in developing the framework for youth experience, seek funding to support the efforts, and promote their success stories widely.”
New ideas on how to do this included having AGC chapters invite teachers to attend their social and educational events and engaging students about construction careers as early as middle and even elementary school.
Many firms reported they have found success working with schools to arrange project site tours for students. The tours allow them to see first-hand what construction is like and the many different opportunities that exist within the industry. Participants stressed that the month of March is a good time to organize these experiences since that is when students are looking for programs for the summer and enrolling in courses for the upcoming school year.
The workforce experts in this session had other insights about school-to-work experiences that are worth reading.
AGC’s 2022 National Construction Industry Workforce Summit Report provides both AGC members and partners with a wealth of information on creating and securing the construction workforce of the future. AGC helps its members hire more workers by providing resources like this report that offer real-world solutions. Read the full report to learn even more great ideas you can put into practice.