ABC members pour $1.5B into upskilling
- Members of Associated Builders and Contractors invested over $1.5 billion to provide about 1.3 million course attendees with education in 2022, according to a workforce development survey. The year prior members invested $1.6 billion.
- The association’s more than 22,000 members invested, on average, 8% of payroll on workforce development in 2022, up from 7.4% the year before. Education included craft skills, leadership and safety education — the latter making up the largest share.
- Over 700,000 course attendees in safety education accounted for 59% of spending, up from 56% the year before. Nevertheless, the gap in labor to fill the demand yawns wide.
With tailwinds in sectors like civil work, thanks to the $1.2 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, contractors’ demand for workers is set to remain high.
ABC’s proprietary data and research models indicate that $1 billion in construction spending creates about 3,620 new jobs. Estimates indicate construction needs half a million more workers to meet demand.
“The big takeaway is we still got a lot of work ahead of us,” Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development, told Construction Dive.
ABC members have committed to a combined billion-dollar-plus training investment consistently over the last five years, Sizemore said, and the massive deficit of workers has inspired contractors to get more creative with how they spend money on recruiting and whom they pursue.
“We’re seeing more and more contractors seeing investments in second chance programs,” Sizemore said. Contractors are increasingly participating in programs that help citizens reenter the workforce from incarceration, according to Sizemore, and these returning workers can often land positions in modular or prefabrication facilities.
Members too have continued to focus on breaking stereotypes in the industry and opening doors for underrepresented groups like women, Sizemore said, largely by showcasing the living anyone can make as a trained craft worker, like as an electrician.
Nevertheless, construction is far from alone in trying to attract workers, Sizemore noted; all industries are competing for talent. The difference for construction may be that it’s been here before.
“I don’t expect the market is going to cool off,” Sizemore said. “I’ve been in this industry for over 40 years, and we’ve had a shortage of workers pretty much every day I’ve come to work … The long game here is to continue to invest.”