Iowa Construction Industry Fights Labor Shortage

Dec 26, 2015

The construction industry in Iowa is moving into a busy first-half of 2016 with not enough workers to handle the jobs. Efforts are underway to attract more young people into the field.

Leaders in the building industry are promoting construction careers to students as young as middle-school age as a way to fill a gap in skilled laborers in Iowa.  The president of the Master Builders of Iowa, Chad Kleppe, says there are not enough carpenters, ironworkers, masons and other construction workers to attend to the hundreds of building projects in progress.

“I would say we’re anywhere between eight-and-ten thousand workers short on an annual basis, as we look at retirements, as we look at attrition, and we just cannot fill that gap,” he says.

Kleppe says getting them into preparatory courses for a career in the building trades will make them job-ready coming out of high school.

“Not everyone is cut out for a four-year degree and not everyone wants to take on that debt, and if you talk about a kid who’s a sophomore in high school and is not certain what they want to do, they could be taking some prep courses and in essence be job-ready coming out of high school,” he says.

Kleppe says the labor shortage is worsening as more workers near retirement age.