It would take 14 years for US federal and state government-registered apprenticeship programs to educate the 650,000 workers the construction industry needs to hire just in 2022, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of US Department of Labor data from 2021.
DOL data indicate that the construction industry’s federal government-registered apprenticeship system produced just 24,822 completers of its four-to-five-year apprenticeship programs. In addition, construction industry apprenticeship programs registered with state governments produced an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 completers in FY 2021.
“Clearly, the government-registered apprenticeship system is not meeting the industry’s need for skilled labour and cannot be the only solution supported by government to meet industry demands and build a diverse workforce,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labour and state affairs. “This is why lawmakers should support inclusive, all-of-the-above solutions to workforce development as part of their efforts to attract and retain a diverse construction industry workforce, especially during these economically challenging times.
“The construction industry currently faces supply chain disruptions, unprecedented materials prices that are 44% higher than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic and declining investment in nonresidential structures,” said Brubeck. “Because 87.4% of the construction industry does not belong to a union, government-registered apprenticeship program participation requirements for taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects are not a holistic solution to the skilled labour shortage, which is exacerbating historic levels of inflation in the construction industry and undermining significant taxpayer investments in infrastructure.
“Government-registered apprenticeship programs are only a key part of an all-of-the-above solution to workforce development,” said Brubeck. “ABC’s 68 chapters are educating craft, safety and management professionals using innovative and flexible learning models like just-in-time task training, competency-based progression and work-based learning in addition to more than 300 federal and state GRAPs across 20 different occupations in order to develop a safe, skilled and productive workforce. In addition, ABC member companies administer hundreds of GRAPs independent of ABC’s network and invested an estimated $1.6 billion in construction workforce development in 2021.”