Prepare for Labor Scarcities

Bruce Miller

April 2005

We are four months into the new year and our economy looks good; in fact, the next two to four years look good. After that, labor availability starts to taper off. Based on projections made by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, by the year 2010, this country could be facing a shortage of as many as 10 million skilled workers.

The skilled labor referred to in those stats is defined as anyone who does not need additional training or education to perform the duties and responsibilities of a given job. How many of your employees qualify as skilled laborers? Furthermore, does your Business Plan address future labor shortages, and where will you find new, skilled employees?

This isn’t a subject to take lightly. If you have followed migration patterns, you may know that in recent years the United States has drawn about one million Mexicans to its soil. Mexico has provided us with a good pool of workers, but forecasters say the number of Mexican migrants is expected to drop by half in the coming years.

Furthermore, being that your best skilled employees are probably older—possibly nearing retirement age—you have to prepare for the day they retire. Does your business plan deal with employee retention? When the shortage gets critical, there are competitors that can and will hire your key employees. Are you prepared for that possibility?

Economic experts project that we are headed for the most severe labor shortage in history. For our companies to survive, we must retain older, skilled workers, while developing the work force of the future. It is paramount that your business plan address training and educational needs of your workers.

At the national level, AWCI and the American Subcontractors Association are working together to improve contract language and management education. But we as association leaders can’t do this by ourselves. We need your involvement to help create leading-edge technology, leadership and management skills to survive the future demands.

The recent AWCI and ASA industry conventions had many opportunities to involve and educate all of us on issues we face daily. Take their ideas home to your local associations and build on them. Together we will all make this a better industry in which to be involved.