AGC Reports That Demand for Skilled Labor Remains, Despite Project Delays and Cancellations
This week, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reported the results of a recent survey it conducted with Autodesk that found that the demand for skilled labor is still strong, despite the fact that the coronavirus has prompted project delays and cancellations, as well as layoffs and furloughs. “Few firms have survived unscathed from the pandemic amid widespread project delays and cancellations,” Chief Economist Ken Simonson said.
“Ironically, even as the pandemic undermines demand for construction services, it is reinforcing conditions that have historically made it hard for many firms to find qualified craft workers to hire,” he added. In the survey, 60% of firms reported having had at least one future project postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19, and 33% had projects that were already underway stopped because of the pandemic.
In addition, the portion of companies that reported cancelled projects has nearly doubled since the survey AGC conducted in June, when 32% reported cancellations. According to the AGC, the coronavirus also has undermined the productivity levels of the construction sector since firms across the country have had to change the way they operate to protect workers and the public from the disease.
Forty-four percent said it has taken longer to complete projects, while 32% said it has cost more to complete ongoing projects due to the coronavirus. In addition, 40% had to implement new hardware or software to cope with labor shortages. “The results of the AGC and Autodesk workforce study reveal that the construction industry is still grappling with the changes and consequences of the coronavirus pandemic,” Autodesk Director of Construction Thought Leadership and Customer Marketing Allison Scott said.”The long-term effects of the current crisis have yet to play out, and firms that double down on innovation efforts, whether an increased focus on lean construction, workforce training or technology that facilitates remote collaboration will be well poised for enduring resilience.”
According to AGC, only 42% of firms report that their business volume has returned to year-ago levels, or expect it to do so in the next six months. Thirty-seven percent expected it to take more than six months, while the remainder did not have an answer. “There is a lot that Washington officials can do to help boost demand for construction projects and get more people back to work rebuilding the economy,” AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr said.
According to Sandherr, the association is pushing Congress and the Trump administration to launch new recovery measures. “The challenge is that the coronavirus has put many contractors in the position of looking for work and workers at the same time,” he added.