By Rebekah Castor (Syracuse, N.Y.) — The construction industry in the United States may be at an all time high, but all the demand can’t seem to fix the industry’s labor shortages. Workers currently in the industry say, if more young people don’t take labor trade jobs, the industry will be at a critical point in the next 5 years.
“We’re struggling right now to get people in,” Matt Nesbitt, a Syracuse iron worker, said. “It’s such a great career in the end and we need the manpower.”
The industry is booming. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total amount of construction in January 2017 was valued at $1.18 trillion. This is an increase of $35.4 billion from January 2016. Earl Hall, the Executive Director of Syracuse Builders Exchange, says there is a lot of opportunity for good paying jobs for students.
“Many of the students around Central New York don’t necessarily want to go to college or can’t afford to,” Hall said. “If we can engage these students into the trade, we can train them, and give them job placements.”
Thursday, at the New York State Fairgrounds, employers had the opportunity to meet with students directly and inform them of all the opportunities available at Construction Career Day. High school students across CNY attended the event. They got to speak with employers, interact with tools, and learn how to use heavy machinery.
“I’m actually learning quite a lot,” Damion Douglas, a senior at Oswego High School, said. “I like how the companies come down here and show us what we can do and give us the opportunity.”
“I learned there’s only a small percentage of women in construction ” Ajile Rudolph, a ninth grader at Syracuse Academy of Science, said. “That’s why I want to join the industry.”
Nesbitt feels that students these days are no longer being exposed to the construction industry and believes events like Construction Career Day will help the industry expand.
“Years ago when I was in high school, we had shop classes and most schools don’t have that anymore,” Nesbitt said. “You look at the younger generations and they’re running around with phones in their hands. We were out helping dad with something.”