Construction is an integral part of our society. From our office and school buildings, to our roadways and houses, we will always need the construction industry. And yet, there seems to be a common issue plaguing the industry as a whole. As an experienced veteran in construction,I have noticed a shocking lack of labor.
A recent article from Curbed perfectly illustrates this. The article focuses on a man by the name of Randy Strauss, owner of Strauss Construction. Strauss has essentially noticed that there is a serious lack of laborers for projects; and not just any laborers, either. Strauss realized that younger people aren’t terribly interested in construction. And I agree with him.
The issue stems from children in school being told that they must go to college in order to be successful in life. While I do not have any issues with college or higher education, and understand its importance, there are other paths to a successful life. And unfortunately, there is a lack of vocational education at schools, and because of this, the traditional blue collar job is on the brink of extinction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, there are almost 200,000 construction industry openings across the country that remain unfilled. And while not having enough laborers is bad enough, this comes at a time when the construction industry is desperate need of workers.
In the article, Strauss claims that construction is not the only industry feeling the impact of a lack of younger workers. “It’s a huge issue. One that also impacts automotive dealers trying to find mechanics and factories. The young people aren’t coming out and working with their hands anymore,” he says.
A lack of vocational schooling is not the only reason for the labor shortage. The housing crash of 2008 forced several in the construction industry to flee, in search of employment. However, the market managed to upturn rather quickly, leaving it desperate for laborers.
According to another report from Fortune, Colorado will need an estimated 30,000 workers over the next six years. And Michael Smith, head of a Denver-based nonprofit that provides free training for plumbers, electricians and carpenters, cannot seem to entice youth to his classes. He claims that high schools are preparing students for college and abandoning children who are more suited for vocational work.
This problem is plaguing the industry more and more, and will only get worse as technology and startups become the normal. Some experts are even suggesting that coding has become the new blue collar work of the 21st century. Regardless, I will continue to update you on this story with any major developments.