Despite Layoffs, Finding Skilled Labor Remains a Concern

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Robison Wells

Back before there was wall-to-wall coverage of the Covid-19 epidemic, there were constant reports—even here on this blog—of the inability of contractors and construction companies to find skilled labor. One would think that since the major layoffs occurred in the spring of 2020, more of these positions would be easier to fill. But that is not the case, according to a workforce study from the Associated General Contractors of America and AutoDesk.

“Ironically, even as the pandemic undermines demand for construction services, it is reinforcing conditions that have historically made it hard for many firms to find qualified craft workers to hire,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist in a statement to the Denver Post.

The survey looked at 2000 contractors, almost all of which reported that they had fallen on hard times because of the pandemic. One third reported having a project halted mid-construction, and 60% reported that future projects have either been delayed or canceled.

And yet, despite all of that, 50% of the contractors say that finding skilled labor is still a major concern as the move forward.

38% of the contractors reported that they had to layoff workers during the epidemic, but 25% have said that they’ve had trouble getting workers back now that the economy is beginning to rebound.

This could be because the skilled laborers have taken other open job postings or, as many fear, they have chosen to leave the construction workforce entirely, which will leave future hiring of skilled labor in doubt even more than it was pre-Covid.

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