Original Article by Construction Dive

Construction’s workforce isn’t getting any younger.

In 2022, the median age of construction and extraction occupations workers was 41.2, and about 45% of construction workers were 45 and older, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data available.

That’s due in part to the aging of the overall population — the nationwide median worker age in 2022 was 42.3 — but construction has felt that increase more than other industries, according to BLS. 

The causes for the workforce’s age increase are many and so are the trend’s potential detrimental impacts.

“As many members of the senior workforce retire from construction, there aren’t enough qualified, experienced folks to take their place,” said Marianne Monte, chief people and administration officer for Boston-based Shawmut Design and Construction. “There are many factors that contribute to this talent shortage, starting with the Great Recession when the demanding, uncertain nature of construction led people to switch industries.”
A smaller talent pool has forced some contractors to turn down work on new projects, said Kris Manning, chief operating officer of Bethesda, Maryland-based Clark Construction. While there is a high demand for construction projects, many contractors simply don’t have the staff.

That can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keyan Zandy, CEO of Skiles Group, a Richardson, Texas-based contractor primarily specializing in healthcare projects, noted that seasonal work, long hours and a perceived lack of stability have made it challenging to retain and attract younger workers.

“During economic downturns, construction projects often decline, leading to layoffs and a decrease in new job opportunities,” Zandy said. “This can discourage younger individuals from entering the industry or pursuing construction-related education and training.”

Experts told Construction Dive that more focus on recruiting and retention efforts, technology improvement and continued investments in education will help ensure that the industry can bounce back when more experienced workers retire.

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