ABC New Hampshire & Vermont News
A Pathway to the American DreamThis Labor Day, we continue the decades-long tradition of honoring the American workers who build our communities, cities and states and contribute daily to our national prosperity. From schools to hospitals, hotels and stadiums, hardworking hardhats help build America.
Today, the U.S. construction industry employs about 7.5 million workers—workers who are in increasingly high demand. Associated Builders and Contractors estimates that we need to hire a staggering 500,000 workers just to fill a national backlog of existing projects. That means opportunity for those that want to enter the trades to help build our communities.
Construction is not just a job, but an opportunity for a well-paying career and one that can’t be offshored. In addition, construction is one of a few industries where someone can enter as an apprentice and be paid to further their career through earn-and-learn programs, all without accruing student loan debt.
This is the best kept secret in our state because a long standing inaccuracy that construction was a low wage, low skill job and therefore not seen as a viable career. As people explore alternatives to an ever more costly four-year higher education, they discover modern construction is performed by individuals earning high wages with benefits in a high-tech, safety-minded environment. They also learn that workers who participate in an apprentice program can spend upwards of five years learning on the job and attending classes at a local community college or trade school to study their craft. By the end of their program they earn a Journeyman’s card, which is the industry’s version of an advanced degree. All this is done on the employer’s dime.
Workers built this country with brawn and gumption and continue do so today, but in a more tech savvy way that’s attractive to the younger generation entering the workforce today. A typical construction job today is more collaborative and uses technology to plan, construct and build. Today’s building is done with intelligent 3D model-based called Building Information Modeling (BIM) to bring together architecture, engineering and construction professionals construct the project virtually before a single shovel breaks ground. That use of technology continues onto the jobsite with virtual plan rooms, blueprints on tablet computers, electronic job order changes, the use of GPS to place utilities and more.
If you are unsure of construction as a career for you or a family member, consider this for conversation during your Labor Day festivities: The average wages for construction professionals are 18% higher than the typical worker, according to the US Dept. of Labor. Also, the industry’s openings continue to grow as 21% of skilled workers are 55 years, 29% of skilled workers are between the ages of 45 and 54 and up and less than ten percent are younger than 24 years old. As the population of the construction workforce continues to age out, maybe it’s time for you or someone you know to consider a career in construction.
The construction industry is looking to expand job opportunities for women, minorities, veterans, students, non-graduates, and people seeking new careers, re-entry to the workforce or a second chance. Learn more today at www.ibuildnh.org.
Josh Reap is the President & CEO of Associated Builders & Contractors, New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter and advisor to the NH Construction Sector Partnership.