Labor Council data, recommendations for support of current and future workers in the construction industry

Provided by WSW

With more than 77,000 jobs and a $ 6.8 billion payroll, construction accounts for nearly 7% of private sector employment in the Southwest Washington-Portland area and 7% of wages. The sector contributed about $ 7.9 billion to the region’s gross domestic product in 2020.

DARCY HOFFMANN The Southwest Washington Workforce

Construction is one of four key industries supported by the local government workforce system and the Labor Development Council, Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW), which recently published an updated report on the construction labor market.

Some highlights from the new report include:

The size of the company

There are about 9,600 construction sites in the region. The average size of a construction firm is slightly smaller than for all firms: 10 employees per company versus 15 overall.

Approximately 64% of those employed in the construction of the region are enterprises with less than 20 people.

In my experience, many contractors find new employees by word of mouth and employee referrals. Anecdotally speaking, the construction industry does not advertise vacancies through popular online job boards or through community organizations at the same rate as other industries. Job candidates who may be new to the industry have nowhere to go to establish these professional connections if they are unlucky enough to know someone who works in the field. This cycle is the reason that entering the construction industry can be difficult for job seekers from historically excluded groups – the same people who want to attract many contractors.

What should we do about it?

  1. To reach the next generation of workers, contractors can connect directly to career and technical training programs in high school (CTE) or collaborate with high schools to connect with students who are not yet on a career path and introduce them to the construction professions .
  2. Contractors can start using online job boards, their websites, social networks and a wide range of community organizations that are related to the applicants they seek to attract.
  3. Go to the next section on employee demographics to find critical hiring and retention strategies.

Demographics of workers

Current and future construction trends, both public and private, are rapidly increasing the demand for skilled professionals. While the construction workforce is slightly younger than the total workforce, nearly one-fifth of the region’s construction workers are 55 and older, and they are approaching retirement.

Although the number of people completing training in construction professions such as electricians, workers and carpenters has steadily increased over the last decade, their numbers remain well below what is needed to meet industry demand.

The construction sector is predominantly male: 95% of the workforce compared to 52% in all other areas.

Workers who identify as white make up 74% of both the total workforce and the construction workforce in the Southwest Washington-Portland region.

Workers who identify as Latinos make up a larger share of the workforce compared to all other industries, while workers who identify as blacks, African Americans, and Asians are underrepresented in construction.

Recognizing the historical underrepresentation of color and women, the construction industry has adopted and seeks to increase diversity as a primary goal, as stated in the Construction Personnel Plan for 2021-2023.

Plan strategies include:

  • Build trusting relationships that promote the success of various construction workers
  • Develop robust marketing strategies while emphasizing diversity
  • Allocate resources to pre-train, train, test, and support women and colored men
  • Include best practices that institutionalize diversity

If you are interested in joining this common table to promote these equity strategies, contact me. It is imperative that the construction sector be prepared to welcome, train and support more diverse staff.

Education

Nearly eight out of every 10 construction vacancies require no education other than a high school diploma.

Thirty-two construction professions, which make up 55% of all construction work in the larger region, are available upon completion of registered apprenticeships. Only 15% of jobs in construction require a degree or higher; much lower share than for all other industries (30%).

Wages

In Washington, 50% of builders earn $ 34 an hour or more.

I probably don’t need to say the obvious, but I’ll still say – what a recruiting tool! Bring your high school diploma / equivalent and come work in an industry that provides paid on-the-job training and training opportunities!

Consequences of COVID

During the COVID-19 recession, construction fell slightly, but suffered less and recovered faster than other sectors. The industry is expected to add more than 13,200 jobs over the next decade, a growth rate of 17%.

Resources for business

To meet the region’s construction needs, companies need to attract more workers, especially women, people from historically underrepresented communities and young workers.

To ensure that the workforce development strategy adapts as the industry changes and needs, WSW and its regional partners meet quarterly with construction and related industry firms. If you would like to attend, cast your vote, participate, and learn about grant funds and other resources, contact me or visit the WSW website building page to learn about dates.

WSW and the workforce system have many resources that can help construction and related companies. I am here to support you and would be happy to work with you to consider opportunities and help your organization develop a strategy to attract, train and retain a skilled and skilled workforce that is ready to take your open positions now and in the future.

Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW), a nonprofit organization, is the Local Workforce Development Board (LWDB), designated by the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) to oversee the state workforce system in Kaulitz, Wakiakum, and Clark counties.

Darcy Hoffman is the Director of Business Services at Workforce Southwest Washington. You can contact her at dhoffman@workforcesw.org or 360-608-4949.

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