Construction worker shortage seen as ‘scary’
As Northern Nevada’s construction boom reaches pre-recession heights, so too does the industry’s need for more workers.
But so far, officials told the Northern Nevada Business Weekly’s monthly Breakfast & Business event in Reno on Thurdsay, the job numbers are woefully short.
“We’re at 60 percent of the peak construction employment in 2005 right now,” said Craig Madole, CEO of the Nevada Chapter Associated General Contractors.
Aaron West, CEO of Nevada Builders Alliance, said 24 percent of the current construction-related workforce is over age 55 and just 7 percent is under age 24, and the 16-20 age group is shrinking in labor force participation rates.
“We have a real pipeline problem here. We’ve got to get them into the workforce. This is absolutely scary,” he said. “We don’t have the workers.”
He said that at present, hundreds of workers in Northern Nevada came from Southern Nevada where the job market has been weaker.
But demand will quickly heat up with the new Raiders stadium and other major projects, including convention center renovation, a new minor league baseball park and a Raiders’ practice facility planned for the Las Vegas Valley.
“They will pull those guys back to Southern Nevada,” West said.
In response to the need for more workers, the AGC announced a new classroom construction program with a virtual reality construction equipment simulator funded initially with a STEM Workforce Challenge grant of $200,000.
“We are lacking sufficient secondary school curriculum and technical education training to meet the growing demand for skilled workers,” said Lance Semenko, AGC president and COO of Q&D Construction Co.