Labor shortage solutions: Immigration reform and more skills training, says AGC

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The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reports in a survey that, of 26 Florida-based firms, 95 per cent of them say they will be hiring more salaried and hourly employees in the next year, and all expect challenges in finding the right people.

Undoubtedly, the Florida industry has rebounded from the depths of the recession — but this creates challenges. For example, in Orlando, construction jobs increased by 11 per cent in the past 12 months; over the past four years, it has increased to 60,200 people working in construction now compared to 44,660 in 2011.

The AGC believes there will be an increasing shortage of skilled workers, so it is calling for immigration reform and more job training.

The AGC believes the skilled shortage solutions may be solved through:

  • Increased job training, with more federal funding (from the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act);
  • Providing a citizenship path for workers that are already here, with relaxed enforcement against companies that unknowingly hired non-citizens based on false documents;
  • Encouraging private companies to launch charter schools.
  • Cady Pope, director of business development at Roger B. Kennedy Inc., told the Orlando Sentinel that local construction growth is almost entirely led by apartments, multi-family housing, senior living facilities, student housing and some timeshare construction.

There is also the Interstate 4 Ultimate project, and a proposed high-tech Osceola County manufacturing center.

AGC spokesman Brian Turmail said many construction workers are baby boomers nearing retirement,.

“We talked a lot about the loss of jobs during the recession, so many people think there’s little opportunity in this area, but there is now,” Turmail told the Sentinel. “Many workers left construction to work in energy and other areas.”

The AGC would like to see legislation allowing high school students to enroll tuition-free in a community college career and technical programs.

Turmail said that if worker shortages become a bigger problem, as they did in 2005 and 2006, it could slow the economy and drive up the cost of construction.

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