Construction industry continues to face worker shortage

Construction Worker Shortage

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Whether it’s homes, apartments or roads, there’s no shortage of construction projects around the Grand Strand. But research shows there is a shortage of qualified construction workers nationwide.

Myrtle Beach is undoubtedly growing in almost every corner. Industry experts say the shortage itself is not new, but the recent surge in the construction business only adds to the problem. In other words, experts say this is a situation where a booming economy might actually be hurting us. On one hand, there’s a big influx of people moving into the area, therefore the need for more developments is sky high. On the other hand, there’s not enough skilled workers that want to learn the trade. This means contractors are really having to compete to hire the workers they need.

The Associated General Contractors of America found that 80% of firms across the country are having difficulty finding skilled workers, and that number is even high in South Carolina. Jason Faulkner, president of Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association, says it’s everything from plumbers to concrete workers to carpenters. Faulkner says in the 2008 recession, many left the construction industry and never returned. There’s also an aging workforce with the median age for construction workers at 42.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be about 500,000 new jobs related to the construction industry by 2026. Now, industry leaders are trying to recruit people quickly to fill those jobs.

“The demand, the growth of construction in the area has been huge. We get a lot of people moving into the area. Being the second highest county for growth demands that and so our industry is growing by leaps and bounds, but the workforce is not catching up or keeping up. So in fact, it’s actually delaying some construction along the way because of just capability,” said Faulkner.

Faulkner and others in the industry have come to realize high school graduates aren’t jumping at the chance to learn the trade, and that’s why they’re working to target students and parents more. Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association teamed up with Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Horry County Schools to help redevelop the work force. Last year, HGTC launched a train-to-work program to help churn out more skilled workers.

In their efforts on recruiting, industry leaders are trying to put emphasis on the pay, saying skilled workers can sometimes make more than some students who have a four-year degree and won't have to face student debt. Falkner points out many people in the industry are able to work their way up from the bottom and says the sky is the limit.

Severe weather is a main factor when determining the timeline for construction projects. With mandatory evacuations in place over the past week in preparation for Hurricane Dorian’s arrival, it’s caused some delays in projects. However, Faulkner says there’s minimal impacts so far this year and hopes sales will rebound quickly.

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