Many construction jobs vacant likely due to workforce cut-off


The construction industry has seen a decline in workers ever since the 2007 recession. Industry professionals said since then, many workers took jobs in other fields or retired.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of Home Builders, there are 143,000 vacant construction jobs nationwide.

David Lewis, engineering technology department chair and professor at Horry Georgetown Technical College said, "On the skill trade side, you have fewer and fewer people that are looking to get involved in the skill trades like their dad or grandfather did and so you have students wanting to go to school and get an office job rather than doing work out in the field."

He said, despite the decline in workers, they've seen a 10 percent increase over the last 3 years in the construction management program.

"I get more phone calls from the industry looking for students then we do have students coming in," said Lewis.

Many construction workers said this is due, in part, to schools doing away with programs like wood shop, so there's a decline in interest.

"By removing it, you just remove the opportunity and so if that opportunity is not there to teach them that skill then we're almost cutting off the workforce," said Lewis.

Cutting off that workforce has caused many construction jobs to be delayed.

"It almost seems like the culture now a days, wants more with less commitment and I think students and young people are looking to make a lot of money fast and so I think it lends them to think that I've got to go to a big school and get a four year degree as fast as possible," said Lewis.

With the influx of calls to HGTC from construction companies, school leaders said workshops and career expos have helped them recruit more students into the construction field.

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