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Construction demand continues to rise as worker gap widens

Construction jobs are in high demand with local construction companies constantly looking to hire more workers.

Posted: May 14, 2019 10:11 AM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 11:09 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Construction jobs are in high demand with local construction companies constantly looking to hire more workers. The lack of qualified workers is a long-time issue that has created a void in trade jobs around the nation and here in the Rogue Valley.

JB Steel is just one local company who says they have experienced this void first hand. Recently the construction company hired at least 20 new employees — partial owner Russ Batzer says he could easily have hired more if there were enough workers available.

“We’re constantly looking for the types of people that would fit the type of work that we do,” says Batzer.

Many construction jobs can begin at the entry level with opportunities for laborers to advance into supervisor positions relatively quickly. One supervisor with JB Steel has done just that; starting out as a laborer at 18 years old, becoming a supervisor by the time he was 26.

Most construction jobs also start off paying above minimum wage, “There’s nothing in construction, that I know of, that has a minimum wage category to it,” explained Batzer. “I mean, if you’re on a prevailing wage job or project that is funded by the state or the feds, entry level is anywhere from $18-$24 an hour, depending on location.”

Schools have recently started shifting towards including more Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in their curriculum with hopes of encouraging students to pursue a trade.

“We’re all paying for the lack of career tech education, meaning you’re paying higher prices because the demand is beyond the supply of workers,” said Batzer. “If you bring a lot more numbers into it, it’s going to promote competition, you’re going to have more contractors out there and more availability and competition is what drives pricing.”

With more of a push for CTE programs, school can appeal more to those students who don’t plan on going to college. This is also appealing to employers who are looking for workers with experience.

“We would recommend getting involved in shop classes or career tech education classes that are available in their districts,” said Batzer.

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