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/ Categories: Infrastructure, Work Zones

NLC report quantifies workforce challenges in roadway industry

A new report from the National League of Cities (NLC) quantifies what ATSSA members know all too well: It’s tough to fill industry positions.

Hard to Fill Infrastructure Jobs: A Challenge to Building Our Future” looked at the time to hire for infrastructure jobs compared to other jobs and the share of infrastructure jobs taking longer to fill than in other industries.

NLC found the median time to fill an infrastructure job was 23.3 days compared to 19.5 days for other industries. It also found that 30% of the jobs were hard to fill for infrastructure versus 24% in non-infrastructure fields.

“As this report so clearly shows, infrastructure jobs are harder to fill than jobs in other industries, across all regions and all city sizes,” NLC CEO & Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony states in the report. “As municipalities prepare to put infrastructure dollars to work, we must ensure that our worker supply meets business demand.”

The report, released this week, comes as the House of Representatives is expected to vote Monday on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The Senate passed the $1.2 trillion plan in bipartisan action last month.

As Anthony notes, the hiring situation puts at risk the ability to do the work Congress approves, if that happens.

The 22-page report breaks down the types of jobs from management to construction to administrative support. It also includes data on the median hourly wage for each category of position along with the time to fill each type, revealing that the highest paying jobs are not the easiest to fill.

“Hard-to-fill infrastructure jobs are the result of broader trends in the economy, as well as challenges specific to the infrastructure field,” the report states in its implications section. “Overall, labor shortages and misalignment between workforce development and industry demand are creating friction between workers and available jobs. Additional factors such as insufficient access to career pathways and significant retirements of skilled and semi-skilled workers are affecting infrastructure jobs more acutely.”

The report profiles four cities: San Antonio, Texas; Camden, N.J.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; and Louisville, Ky.

Its conclusion notes that the IIJA includes a $550 billion federal investment in infrastructure that would create or save 15 million jobs over the next 10 years. The problem, however, is “the legislation does not contain a proportional investment in skills training to ensure a pipeline of workers are ready to build and maintain these critical assets.”

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