Minnesota contractors can't find qualified workers

New survey results validate what many job sites are already feeling, namely, 80 percent of contractors across the country report it’s difficult to find qualified workers.

Experts in the field believe the construction industry is at a tipping point.

The ripple effect from the construction worker shortage results in higher prices for projects, longer timelines to get jobs done. It impacts the overall real estate market and so much more.

At this major remodeling project on Vincent Avenue, trade workers continually feel the effects of the construction worker shortage.

“We are swamped,” said Katy Bonello. “Me and him have been swamped. It’ just us two.”

Bonello with KJB Homes is thankful to be a second generation general contractor and have a coop of loyal talent to work with.

Attempts to lure these workers away are common.

“Other contractors coming to job sights and saying, ‘Hey, your guys are doing a great job. Can we use your guys for the day?’ That isn’t uncommon these days,” Bonello added.

“We are taught from a young age college is the way to go,” Bonello said. “I think tradesman are becoming harder and harder to find because of that.”

A survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America announced Wednesday said 80 percent of contractors nationwide are having difficulty finding qualified craft workers.

In Minnesota, the top five hardest positions to fill are pipe layers, electricians, concrete workers, welders and cement masons.

Tight labor market conditions are prompting many changes, including 62 percent of construction firms increasing base pay rates. About 25 percent have improved employee benefits and hiring bonuses to attract reliable workers.

“I’ve noticed a lot of companies are taking untrained people and training them in to work with them,” said Travis Mussetter, of Creative Heating.

“I think it’s a really great path,” Mussetter said. “And I know there is a bunch of guys out there that are willing to help guys learn.”

The association conducting this survey says this is a call to action.

They are rolling out a new plan aimed at getting more federal funding to educate young people about trade and technology options, but they are calling on quick immigration for trained construction workers who can legally get work with in the country.