Craft labor shortage may slow construction, warns FMI survey

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FMI recently conducted a survey of members of the construction personnel executives group.

The survey’s results show that 24% of respondents will be unable to bid more work and 32% will experience slow growth if their companies cannot reasonably meet the need for skilled labor and trades people.

The report look into recruiting and retention of craft labor includes an analysis of the driving factors behind the skilled labor shortage, the most effective recruitment tactics and how companies are filling the demand for field management of the craft labor force. In addition, the report provides practical counsel on how to develop human resource strategies to improve recruiting and retention rates. Top executives at the largest contract firms in the U.S. took part in the survey.

“Overall, there’s an increase needed in skilled trade workers of more than 10 percent throughout the next three to 10 years,” states Ken Wilson, director for FMI. One large construction company, “our current hiring forecast shows a need for 8,500 additional craft workers by 2017.”

According to the survey, top five positions that are expected to be the most difficult to fill are: operator (heavy equipment); welder (boilermaker); carpenter; pipefitter; and ironworker (reinforcing).

One of two significant contributing factors to the high demand for craft labor is the shift of the construction workforce to oil and gas related construction. By 2017, nearly 10% of the total U.S. construction workforce will be part of this burgeoning segment of the industry, FMI estimates.

Other factor is the number of survey respondents that plan to increase the amount of work the company self-performs. Currently, surveyed firms self-perform less than 40% of construction projects. However, 65% either have plans to or are considering plans to increase self-performed projects.

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