Apprenticeships: The Construction Industry’s Solution for the Labor Shortage

As media outlets continue to report, there’s an ongoing commercial construction labor shortage that is impacting everything from availability of skilled subcontractors to the increasingly competitive hiring market for construction management professionals. The building and construction industry requires a wide range of skilled professionals to make it tick.

Apprenticeships can offer a precise match between the skills employers want and the training workers receive, says Robert Lerman, an economics professor at American University, in an article from The Wall Street Journal. It seems like a perfect solution: employers need qualified employees and workers to get the exact skills they need. “It’s a great model for transferring skills from one generation to the next,” says John Ladd, director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

Experts are predicting a growth in the construction industry that will see housebuilding return to pre-recession levels by 2020. And demand for commercial construction has been high across the United States, with 93% of contractors expecting to see equal or greater profit margins in the next year as reported this year on That means there will potentially be lots of new construction jobs. This would be good news if the industry weren’t already suffering from a labor shortage.

Apprenticeship is the western world’s oldest form of occupational training, and for good reason. By learning first-hand from an experienced tradesperson, an apprentice acquires mastery of a trade, inside and out. It is a hands-on method that equips participants with exactly the right skills and experience to transition directly into a particular job. Apprenticeship programs could be the answer to the construction industry’s skilled labor shortage.

If you are interested in beginning an apprenticeship program for your company you can find many resources and tools on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at

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