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Construction in America

Help Wanted: the Growing Demand for Skilled Construction Professionals

Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Burns

With a dearth of qualified applicants available to fill hands-on jobs in so many of the professions that feed into construction, hiring managers can find themselves scrambling to keep pace with the number of new projects on which ground is being broken.

The numbers are eye-opening: among the millions of jobs available now, and projected to open, around the country. There’s a demonstrated need in the electrical field (more than 220,000 jobs projected over the next 10 years), home electronics (34,000), heavy equipment maintenance (36,000), HVAC (84,000), and welding and pipefitting (more than 230,000). That’s more than 600,000 jobs that will be available to people with hands-on skills plus the right training and credentials.

A cross-country opportunity 

“A healthy construction industry is a sign of a healthy economy,” said Scott Shaw, President and CEO of Lincoln Tech, a leading national provider of career training for the skilled trades as well as the auto, diesel, healthcare, culinary and cosmetology industries. Around the country, Lincoln schools are training students for many of the very fields on which the construction industry with curricula built around the skills hiring managers need to see. “We know what kinds of skills are in demand,” Shaw added. “Because our advisory boards are composed of people who work in the industries we serve.”

One area of the country where construction skills are in demand is New England. Earlier this year a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston tabbed construction as “the lone super sector in New England to outpace national employment growth.” At Lincoln Tech in East Windsor, Connecticut, Campus President Mary Jo Greco says it’s the right time for anyone looking for a new career path to think about the hands-on roles needed to keep the region building and growing.

“We frequently hear from our partners in the construction industry that there’s a real lack of candidates with the right skills in fields like welding, HVAC and electrical installation,” Greco said, noting that her campus provides training in each of those areas. “The industry’s need for materials and components manufactured on CNC equipment — things like wood beams and frame elements, home spas, doors, even sliding glass panels — also prompted us to introduce a training program for computerized manufacturing careers this year. We’re excited to be training the next generation of professionals that will impact the field and shape New England.”

A growing field 

Graduates, too, are excited about the opportunity to enter an industry playing a pivotal role in economic expansion around the country. For people like Chance Mangham, a graduate of Lincoln Tech in Grand Prairie, Texas, the construction field gave him the opportunity to build on the skills he developed in the Army and transition into a civilian career that keeps him in the field and working with his hands. 

After graduating from Lincoln Tech in 2016, Mangham, a class E-5 Sergeant, began an apprenticeship in welding and pipefitting on a construction site where a new corporate center was being built in Frisco, Texas. Now a journeyman welder, Mangham credits his experience working with field-tested instructors for his career success. 

“I enjoy the satisfaction of being able to say, ‘I built that,’” Mangham said of his new career path. “At Lincoln Tech, the passion the instructors had for their trade and for their students really stood out. It made you wake up and want to go to school every morning — it was something enjoyable, something you looked forward to.”

Residential, education and public Buildings are expected to pace growth for the construction industry in 2018, according to a report issued by Oldcastle Business Intelligence, a division of Oldcastle Building Solutions. That growth, combined with the existing shortage of qualified workers around the country, make the construction field an attractive option for anyone looking for a new professional path.

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