As the words “worker shortage” have become louder and louder amid the discussion of the construction industry’s apparent recovery, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has pushed for a more proactive approach in reinvigorating the pipeline of young talent.

Last month, the association showed exactly why its officials think that approach is necessary.

The AGC recently released results from a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 construction firms conducted in August and September of this year, and 83 percent of firms reported they’re having trouble finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots—a 9 percent increase from when the association conducted the survey last year.

In digging further, AGC reports that in the South, 86 percent of the contractors surveyed report having a hard time finding qualified construction craft workers. In that region, 67 percent of contractors rate the local training pipeline as “below average or worse.”

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, 67 percent of contractors report having a hard time finding qualified construction workers, with 53 percent rating local training programs as “average or above.”

Those results suggest there’s a correlation between the severity of craft worker shortages and the quality of the local training pipeline, according to AGC.

Nationwide, 55 percent of firms believe the local pipeline for preparing new craft workers is below average or poor, while 35 percent of firms have a low opinion of the local pipeline for construction professionals.

Earlier this year, the association compiled a document titled, “Preparing the Next Generation of Skilled Construction Workers: A Workforce Development Plan for the 21st Century.” In the plan, officials identify a range of steps federal, state and local officials can take to make it easier for schools, construction associations and private firms to establish career and technical education and training programs. Steps include reforming the Perkins Act, which is the primary federal funding vehicle for career and technical education programs.

The plan can be viewed in full here.

Other key findings in the survey are that nearly half of firms have increased their use of subcontractors over the past 12 months because of difficulty filling positions, and well over half report they have increased base pay rates for construction craft workers in an effort to retain and attract workers.

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