Trading up: A rewarding career awaits you in construction

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Courtney Mitchell
Vice President People & Organization - Renewables, Energy & Power

Covid-19 re-shaped the world around us and created the phenomenon widely known as the Great Resignation of 2021, which saw a record number of employees voluntarily quit their jobs. While there are several factors influencing worker decision-making and a wide range of industries visibly marked by this mass exodus, it is particularly prominent in the U.S. construction sector, where the gap for talent has widened while the pace of new projects kicking off accelerates.

According to McKinsey & Company, “The U.S. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law projects $550 billion of new infrastructure investment over the next decade, which our modeling suggests could create 3.2 million new jobs across the non-residential construction value chain. That’s approximately a 30% increase in the overall U.S. non-residential construction workforce, which would mean 300,000 to 600,000 new workers entering the sector—every year.”

Career and technical education groups, like SkillsUSA, are critical in attracting new talent into the skilled trades by engaging them on the accessible and fulfilling career paths available within industrial trades.

I had the privilege of attending (along with 19,000 others) the SkillsUSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, recently, where Wood partnered with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) to sponsor the conference.

Supporting organizations like SkillsUSA and engaging with other industry leaders, clients and policymakers enables us to increase awareness of the career possibilities within the construction sector while ensuring future talent has the appropriate skills to enter the workforce.

At the conference I had a chance to catch up with NCCER CEO and President, Boyd Worsham to discuss the different ways to attract and retain talent. If I can share one anecdote from our conversation it would be this: “…We talk about a career like it’s the only job you will have for 50 years – we stand in front of people and say ‘Be a Plumber,’ rather than saying, ‘join our industry – be a part of this team – come build great things – see success every day – bring your entrepreneurial spirit.’  We need to stop talking about the skilled trades like it is an end game; it is an entry point.”

This absolutely resonated with me and has stuck with me ever since. The fact is industrial construction offers a unique and rewarding career path for so many individuals, and I hope that in sharing my view, it encourages more people to consider getting involved in our industry.

  • SkillsUSA is a nonprofit national education association and serves middle-school, high-school, and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations. Its mission is to empower its members and improve the quality of the nation’s future skilled workforce through the development of SkillsUSA Framework skills that include personal, workplace, and technical skills grounded in academics.
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