Construction as a Career Option for Younger Generation
A career in construction might not be the first thought for many millennials or Generation Z, but perhaps it should be. The need for skilled labor is still high as it ever was and with a strong focus to “Build Back Better,” jobs will be there. Now is the time for a younger generation to get the training to thrive and build a future in infrastructure.
Why the time is ripe
The construction industry has been struggling to meet workforce needs for years. When the recession hit a decade ago, many construction jobs were lost, and those skilled workers moved on to other industries. Others in the Baby Boom generation began to retire in record numbers and left construction jobs completely. While immigrant workers were starting to fill the gaps, doing so under the Trump administration was much more difficult.
Then came COVID-19. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 15% of working Americans were unemployed, and more than 50 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance at the height of the pandemic. Millennials between the ages of 24 and 38, were among the hit hardest by the economic turmoil of the pandemic. And according to Pew Research Center, 35% of Americans between ages 18 and 29 say they, or someone in their household, lost their job.
Now the BLS says there are more than 404,000 unfilled construction positions and a survey by The Associated General Contractors of America found about 80% of construction companies can’t find the workers they need.
Looking toward the future
After a 2018 survey by National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed only 3% of young people were interested in pursuing construction as a career, Guilherme Alves Jr., owner and operator of a concrete contractor in Virginia had to remark, “Nobody wants to do hard labor. These kids have no idea how much money they could make.”
The American Jobs Plan, President Joe Biden’s ambitious $2.3 trillion package would, according to Georgetown University, would “create or save 15 million jobs over 10 years and would increase the share of infrastructure jobs from 11% to 14% of all jobs in this country, temporarily reviving the blue-collar economy.” Most of the jobs it would create wouldn’t require a college degree.
Investing in infrastructure could attract a younger generation that is technologically capable and savvy, especially if they are further incentivized by the industry’s new-found focus on technology, which today includes complex automation, robotics, and software.
To address skilled workforce shortages in the infrastructure industry, The Rebuild SoCal Partnership advocates for expanded access to in-demand career training programs and apprenticeship opportunities. Get more information.