Construction Apprenticeships: Critical to Future of the Industry
Denver, CO — A chronic worker shortage continues to plague the construction industry as construction employment levels reach its highest number since the economic downturn in 2008. In an analysis of this report, released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) on February 3, 2017, Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, stated, “The employment gains would be even larger if there were enough workers with the right skills available to hire.” Another recent AGC report noted that the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area added the most construction jobs out of 358 metro areas in the country, with 10,400 jobs (11% increase) between December 2015 and December 2016.
One solution to overcome this construction labor shortage in Colorado includes the Construction Careers Now (CCN) program. CCN is a pre-apprenticeship program made possible under the WORK Act Grant that was awarded to an association group made up of the Associated General Contractors of Colorado (AGC of Colorado), Colorado Contractors Association (CCA) and the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado (HCC). These associations have partnered with the Emily Griffith Technical College to offer a series of four-week training programs in construction, with no cost to participants and no experience required.
To date, 62% of the CCN graduates from the first three programs have contributed to the local workforce by entering construction industry jobs and/or pursuing continuing construction apprenticeship programs. When asked about the future of workforce development in construction, John Hugins, who started his apprenticeship back in 1984 and is now the Director of Operations at Accent Electrical Services, a Colorado commercial electrical contractor, commented, “Construction Careers Now has helped restart the dialogue about the importance of construction apprenticeships, after 20 years of the industry not communicating to the next generation.”
As baby boomers retire and younger generations not considering construction as a viable career option, construction apprenticeships serve as a means to not only provide career training, but also increase awareness of construction as a sustainable career-alternative to college. The Department of Labor reports that apprentices earn an average starting salary of $50,000/year and earn $300,000 more over a lifetime than their peers who do not enter apprenticeship programs.
In order to meet the continued need for construction skilled laborers, lawmakers and government officials are being urged to support these pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer, commented, “We need government at all levels to revitalize and better fund programs to educate and train the next generation of construction craft workers.”
Images courtesy of Construction Careers Now