Evaluation of Construction Craft Skills Training in the Southeast United States
The construction trades skills gap has been a growing problem for decades as craft professionals vacate the industry and construction work continues to grow. Research on the topic has been mostly limited to job market reports that indicate a growing need for skilled craft workers and industry not being able to find them. This project served as an introductory investigation to better understand the state of construction craft trades in the Southeast United States – namely Alabama and Georgia. The project included interviews with construction industry professionals, academics, and investigations of publicly available databases. Project goals focused on understanding more about construction craft training available in Alabama and Georgia, and perspectives of the construction industry on needs, resources, challenges, and trends for them in filling their skilled craft needs. To understand more about the training available, public databases and interviews were conducted. For the contractor perspective, management executives from general contractors in Alabama and Georgia were interviewed to understand their needs, challenges, resources, and perceptions of the issue. Results suggest that Departments of Education in both states have made substantial progress over the last few years to establish formal craft training programs – especially within the secondary school level. As well, more programs within the community colleges are being developed. These include both longer-term (18-36 months) degree or certification granting programs and short-term (6-12 weeks) bootcamps. While enrollment in these programs is relatively strong, feedback from industry indicates limited ability to utilize students from these programs.