U Expert: Industry-wide labor shortage will delay projects this construction season

May 2, 2018
Peter Hilger

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction will help account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022. While the industry has demonstrated steady growth, a worker shortage is causing concern across the country as Baby Boomers retire and fewer young people are attracted to fill the void.

With construction season underway, Peter Hilger, faculty director, instructor and internship adviser for the University of Minnesota’s Construction and Facility Management Program in the College of Continuing & Professional Studies (CCAPS), is available for comment on how residents can expect to be affected, and steps the industry and educators must take to reverse the current trend.

Peter Hilger

“Construction jobs are going unfilled or taking more time to complete simply due to a lack of available workers with enough training or experience. It is definitely a demographic issue that we have long known was coming, and know that it will be with us for quite some time. We aren't producing workers like we used to, and the ones we have are all reaching retirement without replacements to follow— or finding new work that is less taxing on their bodies as they age.”

“The biggest impact will be finding people who have the time to do the work, but also paying more for the shortage of those workers available to do the work at the level of quality expected. It comes down to this: we will pay more and it will take longer, which means having lots of patience.”

“In the future, the best thing we can do is to stimulate young people to enter the trades. It is a very well paying, high-demand profession, but harbors a perception that it lacks the glamour of some other fields of choice. In Minnesota, for example, we also need to determine if we are collectively doing a good enough job forecasting the needs for training trade careers statewide to enable the training institutes to make better informed decisions. The worst outcome is that we jump to train welders, train too many, and then that market softens to the point they cannot find work.”

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Contact information:
aphilger@umn.edu
612-868-3636 (cell)
612-624-8831 (office)

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