Investing in construction’s future: ABC members put $1.3 billion into workforce education in 2020

By Riley SimpsonMay 24, 2021

Associated Builders and Contractors members invested $1.3 billion in workforce development in 2020, and 70% of contractors surveyed reported partnerships with high school and college career and technical education internship programs

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) members invested $1.3 billion in workforce development initiatives in 2020, which shows that despite the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the industry’s skilled labor shortage, construction investing in safety and its own future.

According to the results of ABC’s 2021 Workforce Development Survey, 500,000 development course attendees received craft, leadership and safety education to advance their careers in commercial and industrial construction.

This year, the construction industry will need to hire 430,000 more workers than were employed in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and according to ABC, every $1 billion in extra construction spending generates an average of at least 5,700 construction jobs.

“America’s economic engine is fueled by a workforce equipped with durable and transferable skill sets, and ABC members are dedicated to investing in essential safety education and professional development for craft and management professionals,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development.

Safety education accounted for 71% of the total workforce investment, and per-person spending doubled (from an average of $1,147 in 2019 to $2,369 in 2020), which ABC said revealed an elevated focus on worker education, safety and total human health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey, conducted in winter 2021 from Jan. 5 to Feb. 12, broke down several key areas in its analysis of ABC members’ contributions in 2020, including:

  • General and construction management contractors almost tripled their share of the total workforce development investment, from 21% in 2019 to 58% in 2020
  • ABC members invested an average of 8.4% of payroll on workforce development in 2020, an increase from 7.9% in 2019
  • Approximately 70% of contractors reported engaging with high schools and college career and technical education internship programs
  • Between 2019 and 2020, 3% fewer contractors experienced a severe labor shortage, and over the same time, 5% more contractors experienced a moderate labor shortage
  • Women were more involved in management/supervisory roles in 2020 (17%) than in 2019 (16%)

ABC said it’s recruiting, educating and upskilling the next generation of construction workers through a network of more than 800 apprenticeship, craft training and safety programs across the country.

“Apprenticeship and career technical education provide the right tools to our nation’s workforce to not only build the places where Americans live, work, heal, play and learn, but also cultivate long-lasting and rewarding career opportunities,” Sizemore said.

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