Skilled Labor Shortages: What Michigan is Doing to Address the Issue
During the past few years, the construction industry has seen a shortfall in the number of skilled tradesmen available for employment. The shortage has caused business owners grief in trying to maintain proper staffing for the jobs that they bid on and perform. There are many reasons for the decline in the availability of qualified workers: the older generation retiring from the workforce, immigration laws that the Trump administration has proposed, and added pressure on millennials to go to a traditional, post-secondary school for education instead of seeking opportunities in the skilled trades.
I recently spoke with a construction client I work closely with, and when I asked how busy he was during this time, he said that he had to turn down some work; much of this was the result of the inability to retain good help. He has tried to incentivize working at his company by offering better wages and more relaxed hours but, in the end, a lot of the workers he has are simply not qualified to perform the work the way he demands. Most applicants he sees do not have proper training in the trade, and therefore would be behind from the start.
Fortunately, construction organizations within Michigan have realized this is a very real problem and have set initiatives to counteract this dilemma. By partnering with and providing funding for local trade schools and construction academies, the number of qualified, skilled tradesmen is on the rise. The curriculums allow the students in the program to explore the many different sectors of the industry – everything from carpentry and electrical, to plumbing and pipefitting. This allows the students to identify which area within the skilled trades best suits their abilities.
The best way for construction business owners to get in front of this new talent is to reach out to local construction academies (for example, Mount Pleasant Vocational/Tech Center or the Greater Michigan Construction Academy in Midland). The academies can put you in contact with the talent that they have.