This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 26, 2006

Construction Workers in High Demand

A high demand for skilled workers in all the construction trades is raising costs and slowing production in many countries. Contractors are frustrated by an insufficient supply of electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, equipment operators, and civil engineers. They donít have enough equipment operators, welders, or carpenters. This shortage is affecting new home construction, commercial and industrial development, home remodeling, and the building and rebuilding of infrastructure---highways, bridges, water and sewer lines, and electrical grids.

This inadequate supply of qualified workers has arrived when contractors have more work than they can handle. A huge volume of work awaits, as politicians and bureaucrats wrestle with funding of infrastructure expansion and repair. Bridges, highways, power lines, telephone operations, water lines, and other unseen but vitally needed support systems require some major work.

The southern coast of the United States is still suffering from the direct hit and the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In this region, contractors will have to manage the challenges of insufficient training for willing workers, food and water, housing, and provision for families. The threat of devastation from 2006 hurricanes complicates the problem, with the potential of intensifying competition for resources and attention.

A number of significant construction projects are coming to life around the world. New highways and other infrastructure improvements, industrial buildings, family housing, and schools are all under construction or close to start. The workers do not have the skills they need, so a considerable amount of training must be done. The instructors are often people who are needed on the job---in developing countries or elsewhere.

Part of the problem is an over-emphasis on high school graduates going to university. Too many young people are directed into four year programs when they should be going into community colleges or trade schools. They begin their studies, then drop out for one reason or another. Too often, these potential skilled workers are not recaptured into the education and training process. They take low-skilled jobs because they are not qualified for anything else. We lose valuable workforce strength because of misdirection and a lack of follow up.

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