The Opportunity for Success is Right in Your Hands
by Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association
It’s great news to hear that constructions jobs and careers are on a positive upswing!
Did you know, according to the statisticians, that the construction industry is projected to experience an 11 percent growth rate now through 2026? This is far better than the 7 percent average forecast for all other occupations. This increase equates to approximately 758,400 new construction jobs being added to the workforce by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to Casey Heigl of ConstructConnect, some of fastest-growing careers in the construction industry are:
- Solar Photovoltaic Installers — 105 percent growth through 2026
- Plumbers — 16 percent growth through 2026
- Construction Laborers — 13 percent growth through 2026
- Construction Equipment Operators — 12 percent growth through 2026
- Masons — 12 percent growth through 2026
- Elevator Installers and Repairers — 12 percent growth through 2026
- Glaziers — 11 percent growth through 2026
- Construction or Project Manager — 11 percent growth through 2026
As we have been saying over the past several months, the construction industry has high employment projections and will see substantial growth over the next few years. And, we have also been saying the lack of a skilled workforce is problematic and an obstacle that is a foremost point of concern for future progression.
An Associated General Contractors’ survey shows that 75 percent of firms expect to add headcount this year and that 78 percent of firms are having trouble finding qualified workers. In addition, 82 percent of firms expect it to remain difficult, or get harder, to find and hire qualified workers in 2018. Every local contractor I have talked with all want to hire and expand their workforce and say there are many strong opportunities for professional growth here in Yavapai County.
The moral of this story is with the high growth in the construction industry and the difficulty in filling positions and the lack of workforce, now is the time to seize the moment. The time for action is now to set yourself up in a construction career.
Right here in Yavapai County, our construction industry has a treasure trove of jobs across a broad spectrum in the construction field.
One of the challenges faced by the construction industry is its image. The image of the industry could be improved among key demographic groups, including youth, parents, educators and guidance counselors. Recruitment is also a challenge, and the current shortage is complicated by two trends: the growth of the industry and the retirement of the baby boomers.
That gap between open jobs and available workforce is devastating to the homebuilding/construction industry, which is growing nationally. The issue is compounded as an aging skilled-trade workforce enters retirement and fewer young workers enter the industry.
What is the solution, we ask? There needs to be a cultural paradigm shift in our communities.
Prior to 1990, vocational education or trade schools were an important part of an education system that focused more on employment outcomes than test results. Today, however, school systems concentrate on meeting federal- and state-mandated targets, or “grade cards,” that are measured primarily by testing outcomes.
A career in the skilled trades, such as plumbing, carpentry or electrical work, was once viewed as a respected occupation and today our young people entering the workforce are rarely encouraged by educators, parents and other mentors and influencers to consider the trades as a career path. High school students are pushed into college, regardless of whether it’s appropriate for their personality, learning style, finances or employment goals.
We have so many success stories in our area. For example, the young kid who started out doing odd jobs to help pay for college, but his great work ethic and dedication took him to a more informal handyman-type of business. His parents had a dream of college, however he found this hands-on work more rewarding, lucrative and plentiful. This young kid then went to work for some local homebuilders and eventually opened his own homebuilding company and has been building homes in Yavapai County for 22 years.
This is the story of a local kid, who had dedication and built a career with a six-figure salary, without a college education.
We have said time and time again, in order to meet the demands of the construction industry, and the reality that traditional college isn’t the best option for many, our school systems must partner with leaders in our community who represent this growing industry ; secondary schools need to realign their thinking and programs, and not everyone should go to college.
By looking at the building industry as offering lucrative, abundant and fulfilling professions, and by helping young people prepare to step into these jobs, we offer them viable careers that come with flexibility, no college loans and long-term sustainability.
Who you are today and what you will become in future is right in your hands – the choice is yours.