“We face challenges every day fulfilling our labor needs … – Newscenter1.tv

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Many industries and companies, even hospitals and grocery stores, are facing employee shortages and contractors are no different.

National President Dan Fordice of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) says that workforce issues have been at the top of the list for over 30 years. But the issue increased after the pandemic started and everyone is facing shortages now.

Why might contractors be facing an employee shortage?

“One of the top things that we got to get figured out in this country one of these days is immigration reform,” Fordice said. “We need immigrants to come in this country to go to work. We’ve always had that. We need that today. But that’s on a very long list because it’s going to be very hard when we’ve got a split Congress like we do to get anything done in Washington on immigration reform right now. So there are lots of things that we can do that we’re working on.”

Another possible reason that Fordice shares is an image problem with parents and kids, which they’re trying to educate them on.

“All parents want their kids to go to college,” He said. “That’s a great thing. But the statistics show that very few of them are graduating and very few of those that do graduate with a degree are working within their degree. And if you do the math, you can go to work out of high school.”

How does it affect potential and current projects?

With fewer employees, it can hamper the number of projects a company takes on. It can also cause them to fall behind on projects that they are working on.

“We’re giving up jobs, or not even bidding projects because we just simply don’t have enough people to do it. The people we do have are high quality, but just you’re not replenishing that workforce, or at least we haven’t for a few years. I’m hoping that cycle will change,” Rob Knight, president of Foothills Contracting, Inc., said.

Always trying to recruit new hires costs money as well as time. Some companies, like Foothills Contracting, Inc., could be spending more time and money on recruiting than they have in their whole history. While it is necessary, companies and projects can be affected by these efforts as well.

“We face challenges every day fulfilling our labor needs. It affects everything from the schedule on projects,” Mark Noteboom, workforce development and safety of Complete Concrete, said. “There’s [a] tremendous amount of time and resources spent trying to find people and engaging people.”

Photos of the AGC on Tuesday:

  • AGC Tuesday11

    Rob Knight, president of Foothills Contracting, Inc., speaks during the Associated General Contractors of America Convention Leadership Lunch at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    Rob Knight, president of Foothills Contracting, Inc., speaks during the Associated General Contractors of America Convention Leadership Lunch at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday10

    Rob Knight, president of Foothills Contracting, Inc., speaks during the Associated General Contractors of America Convention Leadership Lunch at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    Rob Knight, president of Foothills Contracting, Inc., speaks during the Associated General Contractors of America Convention Leadership Lunch at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday9

    Lt. Col. Melissa Jumper, 28th Civil Engineering Squadron, presents on “Ellsworth AFB Projects and Community Impact” during an Associated General Contractors of America breakout session at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    Lt. Col. Melissa Jumper, 28th Civil Engineering Squadron, presents on “Ellsworth AFB Projects and Community Impact” during an Associated General Contractors of America breakout session at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday8

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday7

    Construction equipment sits on display during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    Construction equipment sits on display during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday6

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday5

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday4

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday3

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People listen to a Business Succession Panel during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday2

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday1

    People walk to another room during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People walk to another room during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday18

    A screen displays the Associated General Contractors of America logo during the contractor’s convention at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    A screen displays the Associated General Contractors of America logo during the contractor’s convention at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday17

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday16

    Construction equipment sits on display during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    Construction equipment sits on display during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday15

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday14

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    People talk during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday13

    Construction equipment sits on display during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    Construction equipment sits on display during the Associated General Contractors of America at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

  • AGC Tuesday12

    National President Dan Fordice of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) speaks during the AGC Convention Leadership Lunch at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

    National President Dan Fordice of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) speaks during the AGC Convention Leadership Lunch at The Monument in Rapid City. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

How are contractors trying to work around the employee shortage?

Resources are being used for:

  • Advertisements
  • Referrals
  • Talking to people
  • Networking

“Basically everything under the sun work. We’re doing everything we can,” Noteboom said. “I think a big part of it is being patient. You have to start more at [the] grassroots level, getting into the schools, talking about the opportunities in construction, and building that interest from an earlier age. I think it’s probably the most important thing. As far as, you know, doing things on a daily basis.”

AGC is even working with states as they develop programs to help with the issue.

“But really this is a local issue. AGC of America cannot come down to South Dakota and fix the issue,” Fordice said. “This has got to be done by South Dakotans and the local AGC chapters in South Dakota are working very closely with education facilities and trying to educate the workforce, trying to educate the parents.”

Fordice says they’re also making a push toward a more diverse workforce, trying to get more women and African Americans into the construction industry.

“We have a lot of room to improve. We have a lot of areas there to work with and we’re working very hard on that and inclusion is the big deal,” he said. “People think of construction as a real tough guys job and all, and that’s not really the case. There’s a lot of electronics. We’re now surveying with GPS. GPS is on our heavy equipment, helping run bulldozers and excavators. So there are a lot of very technical jobs in the construction industry now and very well-paying jobs as well.”

What are some benefits of working in construction?

The benefits shared by Fordice, Noteboom, and Knights include:

  • A number of opportunities
  • Well paying jobs
  • Excellent benefits
  • People can work right out of high school
  • Construction worked through the pandemic, being deemed necessary

Another one mentioned was being able to see something you built in a town and community.

“We are very essential to the building of America,” Fordice said. “The greatest thing about the construction industry is you drive around downtown and you point out and you say, ‘I did that. I built that building. I built that bridge. Traffic is flowing better today because of what I did,’ and there’s a lot of satisfaction in all of that.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News

Tags: AGC, Associated General Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America, Associated General Contractors of America Convention, Complete Concrete, contractors face workforce shortages, Dan Fordice, Employee shortage, Foothills Contracting Inc., Mark Noteboom, Rob Knight, workforce shortages

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