Green jobs bring promise to construction industry’s skilled workforce shortage

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The construction industry is concerned about skilled worker shortages, according to a new SmartMarket Report from McGraw-Hill Construction entitled “Construction Industry Workforce Shortages: Role of Certification, Training and Green Jobs in Filling the Gaps.”

It is the first study to focus exclusively on design and construction professionals and trade workers. Skilled workers have left the industry as a result of the economic downturn, an aging workforce and an insufficient pipeline of younger workers, according to the new study released at the AIA 2012 National Convention and Design Exposition this week in Washington, DC.

The study shows that 69% of architect, engineer, and contractor (AEC) professionals expect skilled workforce shortages in next three years; 32% of AEC are concerned about a shortage of specialty trade contractors by 2014; 49% of the general contractors are concerned about finding skilled craft workers by 2017, and 37% of architect and engineering firms are concerned about finding experienced workers. Skilled green workers are in even more demand; 86% of architects and engineers and 91% of contractors are finding too few green skilled employees.

Facing the loss of employees in the construction professions, industryprofessionals are worried they may have lost those skills, and uncertainty about interest by the next generation raises concerns about being able to fill gaps in the future. In a separate but related survey McGraw-Hill Construction conducted for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), 79% of architecture firms are not sure the U.S. student pipeline will be sufficient to replace those leaving the profession, a problem exacerbated by the 76% of U.S. architecture students/recent graduates who would consider working abroad.

“The downturn in construction activity may be masking a serious problem in the construction industry workforce,” said Harvey Bernstein, vice president, Industry Insights and Alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction. “But the rise of green jobs and more availability of training and professional certificationscan help to attract interest in the professions and make firms more competitive.” Green jobs, in particular, represent a transformational shift in the construction industry. McGraw-Hill Construction found that 35% of architects, engineers and contractors report having green jobs today, representing nearly 650,000 jobs. That share is expected to increase over the next three years, with 45% of all design and construction jobs being green by 2014.

The premier partners on the project include the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council. Other contributing partners include the Society for Marketing Professional Services, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, Building & Construction Trades Department of the AFL/CIO, ACE Mentor Program, American Institute of Constructors, Constructor Certification Commission, and National Center for Construction Education and Research.

A copy of the McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report “Construction Industry Workforce Shortages: Role of Certification, Training and Green Jobs in Filling the Gaps” can be downloaded here.

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