Five million is a lot of almost anything. Five million dollars in the bank means a very comfortable life. Five million albums sold rockets an artist to multi-platinum status. Five million views on YouTube…well that number of hits is reserved for a select few videos, like “Jenga Cat” and “Spiderman in Real Life Prank!”
The nation’s non-residential construction labor force is currently at about five million workers. That is slightly up from last year, according to the most recent 20/20 Foresight Report titled Will Industry Find Enough Skilled Labor in Time?, which was recently published by the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA®). Good news, right? Wrong. The same report estimates that at least 5.6 million skilled workers will be in demand toward the end of this year for planned industrial and non-industrial projects, rising to 6.1 million or more as soon as next year.
Eddie Rispone, Chairman of the Management Board for ISC Constructors, knows first hand that the industry is in the beginnings of an extraordinary expansion, especially in the southeast. ISC is a leading supplier of instrumentation and electrical services to industry predominantly throughout the Gulf south. Services include construction, engineering, maintenance, as well as turn-key heat tracing, constructability reviews, project management, budgeting and planning.
Rispone has read this latest CLMA® report (and, in fact, just shared it with his entire team) and believes its predictions are true. The good news is that Louisiana has been active on workforce development since 2006. “Industry and the state government have been working together since the last construction boom, which took place during rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.”
The bad news, according to Rispone, is that there will still be a shortfall. “Have we done a lot, yes. Have we fully satisfied the industry’s labor needs? No. There is going to be tremendous demand and I do believe there will be shortfall that will force us to recruit from other states.”
Rispone says recruitment will include contacting those who were born, raised and trained in Louisiana, but who left the state looking for other work during the economic downturn. “We are reaching out to specific individuals to let them know that there is work, that wages are comparable, and that we need them back at home.”
Previous CLMA® reports and data enabled industry to approach the state and educators with the hard numbers, showing those in control of education budgets and curriculums exactly how many workers were needed and the education that would be required to get them on the job. “Louisiana is way ahead of other states when it comes to working with the government, with the K-12 system, with community technical colleges and with private schools,” says Rispone. “We have worked very hard to get construction jobs on everyone’s radar.”
“The industry’s demand for more engineers, construction managers and supervisors will continue to grow as well,” stresses Rispone. This is why having information like the 20/20 Foresight Report contains has been so critical in Louisiana.
“Our state government is actually using these reports for legislation purposes and to determine resource allocation,” he explains. “The hard facts in these reports are bullet proof; neither government nor academia can read them and deny that one, there is going to be a shortfall of workers; two, that there is tremendous opportunity for students who pursue trades-related education; and three, that we have to come together to meet the skilled craft demands.”
Rispone, who has been actively working with government and academia, believes that in all honesty, neither group likely knew the extent of the problem. “The reports were great ammo for the construction industry to demonstrate with certainty that the impending shortage needs to be taken seriously. We’ve made some serious headway as a result of the data being produced by the CLMA®.”
The CLMA is designed to help owners, contractors, unions and other industry stakeholders dynamically understand the skilled labor market in a collaborative environment and more effectively know how to employ risk mitigation strategies.