October is Construction Careers Month, and what a great time to be talking about finding a career in the construction sector!
This month the Oregon Employment Department announced that construction has accounted for a quarter of all Oregon’s employment growth over the past year. The sector has added 11,100 jobs over that period, and now employs 108,200 people across the state.
In a national report released this month, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, announced that the average hourly wage for construction was $30.18 – the first time that figure has ever topped the $30 mark. Construction now pays 10.7% higher than the average wage for workers in all other private non-farm industries. If you like making money, then construction is where it’s at.
The current economy has spurred tremendous construction growth, and with that a multitude of living wage skilled craft jobs. Unfortunately, too many of these jobs are going unfilled. Contractors across the state are struggling to find and retain a workforce to keep pace with current and new projects. And this is beginning to impact the bottom line as projects stall, or safety and work quality issues arise due to an inexperienced workforce.
Construction Careers Month offers a great opportunity to not only reflect upon the multitude of career opportunities but also the numerous developments and initiatives that are bringing awareness and promoting the industry as a preferred career destination.
AGC is doing its part. The association recently brought on two Workforce Development Managers to bring added capacity to this important issue. AGC also co-founded an educator externship program which won an Innovation Award; oversees a state-wide construction career focused website; operates a social media awareness campaign; launched a construction only focused job board; and convenes industry and workforce partners in two separate meetings to spur collaboration and partnerships.
But, we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the many other construction- focused initiatives across the state which seek to address this difficult issue. In Eugene and Springfield, KEZI has launched the Skilled to Work campaign which seeks to promote skilled trade jobs, companies, and training available in the area. Terry Bierwirth, who developed the campaign, is seeking to change mindsets of parents and influencers in the region.
Workforce Investment Boards across the state have identified construction as a priority sector and are directing funding to programming focused on training new workers.
POIC Rosemary Anderson High School in Portland recently launched a BOLI certified pre-apprenticeship program aimed at training underserved populations for careers in construction.
Over the next ten years construction is projected to continue to grow and add jobs. Additionally, many more jobs will need to be filled as older workers retire. There is still a long way to go to adequately fill the construction workforce pipeline, but AGC is excited about the current progress and future endeavors!