A blog on The Wall Street Journal’s site asks the question many have been wondering, where have all the construction workers gone?
It is an interesting question because the shortage of workers in the construction industry is not restricted to The US alone. In Australia we have also seen a shortage of skilled labourers in the industry, particularly as building activity rose to its highest levels in decades.
The writer reminds us that in 2006 – 2011 there was a decline in construction work and almost 40 per cent of workers lost their jobs. So technically speaking these people should be able to pick up now where they left in the industry all those years ago. However this is not the case, presumably because these people moved on to other careers.
The article states:
From April 2006 through January 2011, nearly 2.3 million construction jobs–more than 40%–were wiped out. As of last month, the sector was still more than 1.3 million jobs shy of its bubble-era peak.
But if workers are out there, builders can’t seem to find them.
“It is just more and more difficult to get talent,” said Clay Gordon, vice president and chief development officer at Nabholz Construction.
The writer goes on to add that there were many workers who retired and a lot of them left the industry to become truck drivers.
Similarly to The United States, the skills shortage here in Australia has increased the demand for labourers, carpenters, roofers and other skilled construction workers.
There have also been calls for builders to take on more apprentices and train them in the construction trades. A lack of new people entering the industry is one of the reasons for the shortage.
In Australia, according to statistics the number of apprentices in training within the industry fell from 56,000 as at June 2013, to 43,100 in June 2014. This was a 23 per cent decline from 2010’s figures.
According to the latest figures a significant fall in the number of apprentices in the building and construction industry has been partly attributed to the downturn in building activity across the country in previous years. But now activity is up in both commercial and residential sectors in most parts of the country. And there simply aren’t enough skilled tradespeople to facilitate this growth
The construction industry is set to face severe skills shortages over the next 3 years and more foreign workers will have to be given 457 visas in order to accommodate this skills gap.
Read more here.