Mind the Gap: Why the Skills Gap in Construction is a Critical Issue

 “Skills to pay the bills.” 

It’s a fun, common refrain we use to illustrate the basic process of work: We use our training and talents to complete tasks that employers pay us to do. 

But more and more in our society, the skills that pay the bills aren’t being learned.  

Companies need talented employees to do good work and help them achieve their goals. But many companies today are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates for their needs. 

Few industries have been hit by this skills gap worse than the construction industry.  

The Skills Gap 

Many career fields are struggling to find employees that meet the needs of a job. Often, the biggest issue is a lack of experience. Sixty-one percent of entry-level positions require three plus years of experience – which you could argue doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

Many companies are also struggling to find good candidates when it comes to hard and soft skills. All told, 46 percent of U.S. employers face difficulty in hiring because of the skills gap. 

When we look at survey data that pertains to the construction industry and the building arts, we see an even wider skills gap that continues to worsen. One in four employers says that filling skilled craft roles is harder in 2018 than the previous year. 

With the national push for young people to seek four-year degrees and beyond, many are overlooking the career opportunities in construction.  

A Nation-Wide Crisis 

The issues in finding skilled craftspeople are not isolated to one part of the U.S. This is a nation-wide concern. 

Eighty-one percent of contractors in the West and South report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions. Those numbers are almost identical to the eighty percent rate in the Midwest and the seventy-seven percent rate in the Northeast. 

The Future Without Craft Skills 

The very infrastructure of our society depends on the skills and performance of craft professionals.  

These craft professionals build the roads, schools, hospitals, homes and factories that allow our society to function and thrive. 

The deficit of skilled labor facing the construction industry will begin to impact other industries. With delays in building hospitals, offices or factories, less jobs will be created — the economy will suffer.  

Closing the Skills Gap 

The large skills gap in the construction industry leads to a bleak long-term outlook for the health of our society. 

Luckily, we have the power to close that skills gap and help people understand the steps aspiring craft professionals should take right now.

By understanding the value of craft skills and recognizing construction as a dignified and desirable career path, we can encourage new generations to learn the skills they truly need.