NewsCovering Colorado


Workforce shortage in construction continues, teens could help

Posted at 9:27 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 00:50:58-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – Colorado continues to see a major labor shortage especially in the construction industry and it’s driving up housing costs.

The good news – there’s a program available to high school students to address this issue and refuel the workforce, something pretty important heading into the summer months as it’s a popular time for building homes and businesses.

News 5 wanted to find out what kind of help the industry might get this summer from students as this local program continues to grow.

Renee Zentz, CEO of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, said, “Demand. We have so much pent-up demand.”

The construction industry in Colorado is booming, but the workforce – not so much.

“The labor force is what they call the silver tsunami where they’re aging out and so we need to be training trades.”

With more people moving into Colorado than moving out more houses need to be built, but the problem is there’s not enough people fueling this field and it’s creating problems for all of us.

“Housing costs. Housing costs are the big deal.”

According to Associated General Contractors of Colorado there’s about 175,000 construction workers in the state right now. AGC says another 30,000 employees need to be hired in the next four years. Part of solving this problem lies in the hands of high school students.

“We’re now in 10 high schools and over 500 kids every day are learning about construction.”

It’s all part of the Careers in Construction Colorado program which was started by the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs and the AGC.

“This is not instantly going to fill our pipelines, but we really believe we’re going to have a better community of kids that can fix their own houses, they understand how to use tools.”

Now, people like Zentz are looking towards this summer, hopeful that some of these kids will help to fill the shortage.

“We’re going to be graduating 100 seniors…we have over 250 sophomores and juniors that are eligible now to enter the workforce.”

Potentially 350 additional bodies to help fill the gap and to construct the homes and buildings in our high demand region.

On top of getting their regular high school diploma students also earn certifications in things like carpentry, plumbing, and landscaping.

The Careers in Construction Colorado program has gone statewide this year. It’s already signed an agreement with schools in Pueblo and is about to sign another one with Denver Public Schools.