First World Problems: Too Many Open Positions, Not Enough Qualified People Willing to Fill Them
Every day, we are told about how poor the environment for job seekers is. Politicians from both ends of the political spectrum talk about it in differing terms (poor work force participation, jobs being outsourced overseas, lack of opportunities for college graduates, and so on). While I won't deny that the anxiety being felt by some people isn't warranted, I would like to point out that there is a huge opportunity for meaningful and well-payed employment in the construction industry. In fact, the currently white hot construction industry is in real danger of cooling off because there is a lack of people available to perform the necessary work. Consider first that the most robust employment growth is in the construction industry.
Now, consider that there is an industry-wide need for more people, most acutely in skilled trade positions. A survey of the members of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reveals a deep shortage an skilled trade workers, particularly carpenters (for my students who like to call out my grammatical and spelling mistakes, the misspelling of "supervisors" was their mistake, not mine. But I digress...).
As a faculty member in a university Construction Management program, I am particularly interested in the salaried professional positions since that is our finished product (or at least we are preparing people to become salaried professionals). While the AGC tend to represent larger general and specialty contractors, the data is very similar to those in the home building industry.
After the 2008-2009 recession, people left the construction industry en masse. It is hard work and the volatility associated with busts and booms is too much for many to take. No one wants to work hard and be exposed to periods of under- or non-employment. But those issues now seem to plague every industry. I know I have, and will freely admit to, a bias towards the construction industry, but let me state the something very important: the construction industry is one of the few where there is high demand for people and embarking on an career in construction will likely not lead people down a path of chronic under/non employment. There is ample opportunity for both skilled blue collar and college-educated white collar workers. At Sac State, we have had 100% job placement for our graduates and I rarely hear complaints regarding crippling student debt. Construction jobs, at least for the foreseeable future, are not subject to mass offshoring.
If you're considering a career in construction, then I offer you my biased congratulations. If you are unsure about what you want to do with your future, give strong consideration to an industry that will be key in building and rebuilding the infrastructure that makes the United States the largest and most stable economy in the world. The construction industry needs you.
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