U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently was in New Jersey to talk about President Joe Biden’s administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill. He talked about the need for “human capital” and called for a qualified, skilled workforce to meet the demands of modernizing New Jersey’s roads and bridges. The Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey echo Buttigieg’s call and are prioritizing workforce development as our top issue for 2022.
The reason is simple. This year, the construction industry will need to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring to meet the demand for labor, according to a model developed by Associated Builders and Contractors. ABC’s 2022 workforce shortage analysis sends an urgent message: The construction industry desperately needs qualified, skilled craft professionals to build America. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in November and stimulus from COVID-19 relief will pump billions in new spending into our nation’s most critical infrastructure, and qualified craft professionals are essential to efficiently modernize roads, bridges, energy production and other projects across the country.
That’s why now is an ideal time to consider a career in construction.
The vocation offers competitive wages and many opportunities to both begin and advance in an industry that builds communities. ABC member contractors use flexible, competency-based and market-driven education methodologies to build a construction workforce that is safe, skilled and productive. This all-of-the-above approach to workforce development has produced a network of ABC chapters and affiliates across the country, with over 1,100 members in New Jersey that currently offer jobs and opportunities for over 165,000 workers.
Yet, our industry needs to do more to meet the growing demands of training our future workforce. That is why the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey launched its apprenticeship training program two years ago. We saw the critical need to educate more skilled trade workers that was not being met in New Jersey. ABC New Jersey’s apprenticeship program provides paid, on-the-job training and classroom-based theoretical education in 15 skilled craft trades.
Working alongside local schools and businesses, we provide preapprenticeship construction readiness training and can help prospective apprentices get hired with one of more than 1,100 of our member companies. Our apprentices earn while they learn, pursuing an education while working full-time on the path to a successful lifetime career.
Apprentices benefit from on-the-job learning from an experienced mentor, combined with education courses to support work-based learning. Registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, all programs comply with strict federal and state requirements for formal apprenticeship and prevailing wage work. Upon successful completion, craft workers are eligible to be recognized at the journey level in their trade and receive a certificate of completion.
The future of the construction industry is booming, and the need for skilled labor continues to rapidly grow. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act brings the promise of billions of dollars in New Jersey infrastructure construction projects. However, we cannot invest in our roads, tunnels and bridges without investing in our human infrastructure, as well.
For more information about ABC-NJ’s apprenticeship training, click here.
Samantha DeAlmeida is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ New Jersey Chapter.