Construction industry is searching for young applicants as older workers retire

Outlier Construction in the Rogue Valley wants high school grads to know that they can join a lucrative industry right away.

Posted: Sep 10, 2019 11:31 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — The construction industry is one of a rare few where someone can get a job fresh out of high school and learn all the necessary skills through training and on-the-job experience, according to one worker with Outlier Construction in Medford.

"I started out in my early 20s with framing, drywall, union carpentry as well, and worked my way through the stages of construction," said Kelly, an employee of Outlier.

After 20 years in the industry, Kelly says he has completed a range of different projects across the valley — mostly by learning from his co-workers over the years. Kelley isn't alone, many construction employees work their up the ranks and gain more skills over the years.

"I would say most of our employees acquired their skills on the job. A lot of our highly skilled carpenters, for example, started out as a semi-skilled or a low-skilled employee when they were 18 and 19 years old and learned on the job," said Keith Arntson, Operations Manager for Outlier.

Now employees like Kelly want to return the favor to younger employees.

Arntson says that there will always be a need for construction workers — it's a job that will likely be around forever.

"I don't think there's any question — a job like a carpenter, cement finisher, or some of the demolition work that we do, remodel work, it would be a position I think that would be, as we go in the future, very difficult to automate," Arntson said.

For the most part, all your need is a high school degree and an interest in working with your hands.

"Somebody who likes to get dirty and wants to stay healthy and fit and work with a team and want to build," said Kelly.

Right now, Arntson and Kelly agree that the demand for new construction workers in Southern Oregon is high.

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