Construction employment increased by 20,000 jobs in December and by 151,000, or 2% in all of 2019, according to an analysis of new government data by the (AGC Associated General Contractors of America). Overall, the December 2019 labor statistics showed a moderate improvement, 140,000 non-farm jobs. AGC officials noted that its recent survey found three out of four contractors expect to keep adding workers in 2020, but even more respondents found it difficult to fill positions in 2019, and a majority anticipate it will be as hard or harder to do so in 2020. Officials called on the federal government to increase funding for career and technical education and expand employment-based immigration for workers whose skills are in short supply.

Indeed, one of the recurring issues in construction is finding trained and experienced workers ready to get on the job. How a company approaches the need for temporary or short-term workers, often during a surge period or to complete a job before weather sets in, also can have lasting effects on profitability. Long-term, using community resources, such as two-year colleges and tech schools, can provide a company with necessary talent but getting people to take advantage of those resources to get the necessary training can be difficult in some areas.

Suppliers are also seeing the need to help their customers in this area. Skilled workers are vital to the long-term success of construction and because of labor shortages, many companies struggle to keep up with demand, ultimately impacting the entire supply chain. To assist the industry as well as their customers, Graybar recently launched the Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship to encourage new people to enter the industry.

High school students who plan to enroll in a community college or trade school upon graduation are eligible to apply for Graybar’s need-based, renewable scholarship. Students must intend to complete an associate degree, a pre-apprenticeship or an apprenticeship in the construction trades, such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, pipefitting or welding. The scholarship is administered by the St. Louis Community Foundation and applications will be accepted through April 15, 2020.

Once trained, the current generation of students will likely rely on social media or apps to find work. Companies can also turn to these sources to find those workers. As an example, GigSmart, one of the staffing platforms connecting businesses with temporary workers, uses a web application to provide access to its Get Workers site. Businesses can create posts, review applicants, and hire and manage temporary workers from desktop, laptop, and tablet devices; iOS and Android mobile apps are also available. Users can hire vetted—background and motor vehicle records checked—and insured workers for short-term shifts instantly or up to 30 days in advance.

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