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Industry News, Science and Technology, and Market Insight

Construction Industry Struggling with Significant Labor Shortage

The construction industry around the world is facing a serious labor shortage. In the United States, a mid-2018 survey of more than 2,500 construction firms conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk found that 80% were having difficulty filling craft worker/hourly positions and salaried jobs, up from 78% in January of that year and 73% in January of 2017. In addition, according to the Q1 2019 Commercial Construction Index, 95% of all contractors surveyed are concerned about whether workers have adequate skill levels. The shortage is not just hurting the ability of these firms to do business. It is also affecting jobsite safety. Survey respondents reported 10–15% increases in workers compensation claims, jobsite hazards, and injuries and illnesses. According to USP Marketing Consultancy, the situation is similar in Europe and the UK, and painting firms there expect the shortage to increase at least through 2022.

HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List have surveyed home service professionals, students, educators, and the leaders of their firms to identify specific sources and potential solutions to the problem. What is driving the shortage? According to the survey, the shortage is a result of  aging—and retirement—of the current workforce and the lack of interest in entering the field by young people at a time when greater numbers of homeowners are looking for help with home improvement projects rather than doing them on their own. High school graduates are not joining the skilled trades, and just over 10% of job applicants seen by professional contractors are between the ages of 18 and 24.

The shortage is a result of aging—and retirement—of the current workforce and the lack of interest in entering the field by young people.

There is a hope that expanding vocational programs in high schools and instituting apprenticeship programs will help attract younger people back to the skilled labor trades. Such programs—an education of the general public—are needed to overcome the stigmatization that skilled trades have undergone in the last few decades. HomeAdvisor is awarding six $2,500 scholarships to students that can devise a creative solution to America’s skilled labor crisis. Paint companies are doing their part as well. Sherwin-Williams launched Paint Your Path found at www.americaneedspainters.com that tells the story of why someone would want to be a painting contractor and provides online training and other assistance. It emphasizes that painters can earn significant money, take great pride in their work, and design their own careers. The company also developed a webinar, “Dealing with the Labor Shortage with Jeff Winter,” in October 2018 that explains the trends leading to the labor shortage and describes what Sherwin-Williams is doing to resolve the issue.

More recently, Benjamin Moore has provided $100,000 in grant funding to the Painting Contractors Association (PDCA) and TEACH (Technical Education Assistance for Careers in Homebuilding) Construction to develop a multi-faceted program geared towards educating and preparing the next generation of painters as they enter the workforce. PDCA, founded in 1884, is an international trade association dedicated to the success of painting and decorating contractors through industry standards, education, and improved business practices. TEACH Construction was formed out of the Colorado Home Building Academy and is an independent initiative to build a community of learning for competency-based construction education. The organization is dedicated to educating the future workforce in all aspects of home building, including painting, which is TEACH’s first area of focus. Launched in July 2019, the Painting Contractor Workforce Development Initiative comprises 15 Trade Best Practice videos for beginners along with an in-depth classroom program designed to offer content on various topics within the painting trade.

The Trade Best Practice video series, which was created by PDCA with support from Benjamin Moore, begins with an overview of the painting industry and provides introductory content on topics including taping, sanding, rolling, etc. As part of the program, TEACH Construction breaks down each topic into learning modules for those seeking more detailed instruction. TEACH Construction is also helping vocational and two-year colleges and education-
focused nonprofits use the paint and construction curriculum to help develop the next generation of painting professionals.female decorating apprentice

There is a hope that expanding vocational programs in high schools and instituting apprenticeship programs will help attract younger people back to the skilled labor trades.

Benjamin Moore hopes through the initiative to provide both independent painters and contractor businesses the resources to equip professionals with the expertise and confidence to be successful, according to Craig Bunting, Benjamin Moore director, Customer Segments. “Collaborating with PDCA and TEACH Construction to inspire and develop the next generation of professional painters is a natural alignment for Benjamin Moore as we remain committed to supporting the communities we serve through workforce development and educational programs focusing on trade skills, architecture, interior design, and more,” he says.

The PDCA Trade Best Practice video series and the TEACH construction curriculum can be accessed online at www.TEACHconstruction.org/painting at no cost for professional contractors, educators, and employers.

CoatingsTech | Vol. 16, No. 10 | October 2019


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