For more than 100 years, Labor Day has been observed as a tribute to the achievements of American workers and their contributions to our national strength and prosperity. This year, the holiday has even more special meaning, as there has never been greater opportunity for careers in construction.
Consider that today the construction industry needs to hire a staggering 500,000 workers just to fill a backlog of existing jobs. Construction unemployment experienced its lowest June national rate EVER on record. According to an analysis released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the construction industry employed 204,000 more workers this year than last.
Clearly, the construction industry is healthy and the demand for new workers is high. What most people don’t understand is the “multiplier effect” from a lack of skilled construction trades people. When construction jobs go unfilled, projects are delayed. Each one of these projects, whether it be a new restaurant or manufacturing expansion typically leads to more jobs. A delay in construction equals a delay in employment for someone else, thus the multiplied economic impact.
The State of Ohio under the Kasich administration has routinely put MILLIONS of dollars toward training workers for “in demand” industries. Remarkably, despite all of the data proving otherwise, construction has never been deemed, by Ohio, as “in demand”. This lack of investment in construction training has a direct impact on the weak economic growth of our state. Project delays = slower hiring = slower collection of taxes.
We’ve heard all the political rhetoric about expanding apprenticeship programs at the state and national level. This year, Ohio received approximately $3M in funds to expand apprenticeship and dedicated it all to MANUFACTURING. Again, the construction industry was slighted. As already stated, manufacturing cannot expand and hire new workers without construction building their facility first.
The path to greater economic prosperity for Ohio is clear. Our state should offer (at least some!) workforce training money for construction employers. Further, student aid could be expanded beyond the traditional four-year college model to give access to training programs that lead to quality construction careers. Opportunity lies before us to expand access to satisfying, well-paying careers in construction for women, minorities, veterans, students, non-graduates and people seeking new careers, re-entry to the workforce or a second chance. On this Labor Day, I pray our state will wake up and give proper credit and attention to the recruiting and training needs of the construction industry.
Visit ovcef.org for more information on training opportunities and careers in construction.
Author - John Morris, President