Help Wanted: How Veterans Can Help Curb Construction Crisis 

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Help Wanted: How Veterans Can Help Curb Construction Crisis 


Fewer new homes are being built in America than at almost any time before. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal report detailing the emerging construction crisis, which is causing a delay in new building projects. 


Several specific factors are to blame for the slowdown, but a key component influencing the situation is a lack of skilled laborers available for hireBuilders cite several reasons for this worker slump, including a trend over the past several decades of an emphasis for students to pursue undergraduate degrees at colleges and universities, while leaving behind the notion of work-force education. As a result, many young people aren’t pursuing careers in skilled trades, despite the potential for high wages, high demand, and eventual self-employment 


As favorable economic conditions continue to allow construction demands to grow, the shortage of skilled workers is the top concern of general contractors, as reported in a national survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. An overwhelming majority of firms – 82 percent – expect it will either become harder, or remain difficult to recruit and hire qualified workers in 2018, up from 76 percent in 2017. Contractors are working to counteract this situation, with sixty percent of firms increasing their base pay rates, and more contractors reporting this year that they are providing incentives and/or bonuses to their employees. 


With 75 percent of surveyed construction companies saying they will expand their hiring in 2018, transitioning service members are poised to capitalize on their abilities and immediately get hired into a job. 


The skills instilled in service members during a military career are a natural fit for the construction industry, which demands problem solving, teamwork, and attention to detail, among many other relatable military competencies. Veterans come to the civilian workforce with years of hands-on experience and a level of discipline that can be difficult to find in entry-level employees, making military members highly desirable candidates for construction firms and contractors 


Construction jobs aren’t necessarily limited to laborer positions, as jobsite superintendents and project managers are also vital roles needed in construction to oversee the daily duties and overall project progression.  


How does an interested veteran or transitioning service member launch into the construction industry? A good place to start is by translating military experience into civilian terms through the Resume Engine tool, offered through Hiring Our Heroes along with Toyota. Using Resume Engine, job seekers can easily and quickly translate their military record into a strong resume that is marketable and that employers will understand. 


Next, military members can receive free skills credentialing for their military training through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), the accrediting body for the construction and maintenance industries. Service members and veterans can apply for credit by completing an online inventory of their military skills, which is then reviewed for alignment with skilled trades in either construction or maintenance. Once approved, applicants receive credit for their experience at no cost, adding credibility and experience to their candidate profile. 

For service members who enjoy working with hands-on projects and want the growth potential that skilled labor offers, the construction industry or one similar, could be the best fit for life after the military. To explore all of the employment possibilities for your career in the civilian world, attend a Hiring Our Heroes hiring event to meet with veteran-ready employers and gain career searching tools and techniques. For full details on upcoming Hiring Our Heroes events and hiring fairs, visit the events page. 

A historic Shortage of New Homes 

Military Can Fill Construction Gap 

National Association of Homebuilders 

Contractors report they will expand their payroll, but are worried about workforce shortages  


“They understand the chain of command, they listen and give very detailed direction, and they can operate independently. I know that when a military veteran steps foot on my jobsite as an employee, they will be respect, hard working, and efficient in their work.”



Commercial Construction Survey Shows 70% of Contractors Struggling to Meet Project Deadlines as Labor Shortage Persists
Mending younger workers’ unfavorable perception of construction careers provides opportunity to revitalize workforce
for immediate release
March 14, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results from the Q1 2019 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index (Index) indicate the labor shortage continues to pose major challenges to the industry, causing firms to ask skilled workers to do more work (81%), struggle to meet deadlines (70%), increase costs for new work (63%), and reject new projects (40%).
As the industry fights to solve the labor shortage, the latest survey suggests a contributing factor could be negative perceptions of construction careers by young workers, leading to fewer workers seeking to enter the industry.
When asked about the biggest myths about working in the commercial building industry, contractors cited the perception that construction jobs are all “dirty” jobs (61%), construction work requires only brute strength (55%) and construction is just a “job” rather than a career (52%).  Yet, contractors note good pay, opportunities for advancement, and the ability to learn new skills on the job as the best reasons to pursue a career in construction.
“It is important for construction leaders to consider how we can shift the perception of the industry and increase the number of young workers who want to work in the trades,” said Jennifer Scanlon, president and CEO of USG Corporation. “Retention will be particularly important to meet infrastructure demands, as well as a continued focus on innovative processes and technology on the jobsite.”
Contractors agree that the best way to increase the skilled workforce in U.S. construction is to increase enrollment in technical schools and vocational training. A better reputation for compensation, apprenticeship programs and opportunities for advancement were also cited as ways to recruit more workers – particularly those under the age of 30 – into commercial construction.
To retain employees, 55 percent of contractors believe there should be more opportunities for advancement, in addition to increased employee engagement and more on-the-job training. The growing role of technology on the jobsite was also cited as a means to attract the next generation of workers to the construction workforce.
Overall, the Q1 composite score of 72 shows a healthy market though contractors may be slightly more cautious about the health of the commercial construction industry, evidenced by a drop in the three leading indicators – backlog, new business and revenue forecasts. The survey was fielded in January during the federal government shutdown, so concerns about economic stability and future growth were likely more top-of-mind than in previous surveys. However, the data about industry perceptions should still be troubling to anyone looking to solve the prevailing labor shortage.
“The first quarter findings suggests that the fundamentals of the construction industry remain strong, but to sustain future growth, it is clear that we need bipartisan policy solutions from Washington that promote trade, reform our immigration system, and better prepare America’s workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer.
The Index looks at the results of three leading indicators to gauge confidence in the commercial construction industry, generating a composite index on the scale of 0 to 100 that serves as an indicator of health of the contractor segment on a quarterly basis.
The Q1 2019 results from the three key drivers were:
Backlog: Contractors’ ratio of actual to ideal backlog dropped three points to 77 (down from 80 in Q4 2018). In Q4 2018, 41 percent of respondents said their backlog had increased. This quarter, that number fell to 28 percent.
New Business Confidence: The level of overall confidence dropped five points (from 76 to 71) quarter-over-quarter.
Revenue: The revenue driver dropped two points to 67 this quarter, indicating moderated expectations for the magnitude of revenue growth in the next 12 months.
The research was developed with Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A), the leading provider of insights and data for the construction industry, by surveying commercial and institutional contractors.
About the Index
The USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index is a quarterly economic index designed to gauge the outlook for, and resulting confidence in, the commercial construction industry. USG Corporation and the U.S. Chamber produce this Index, along with Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A). Each quarter, researchers from DD&A source responses from their Contractor Panel of more than 2,700 commercial construction decision-makers in order to better understand their levels of confidence in the industry and other key trends. This panel allows DD&A to provide findings that are representative of the entire U.S. construction industry by geography, size, and type of company.
Click here to see the full report, methodology, and graphics.
Please note the Commercial Construction Index report is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to support an investment decision with respect to USG Corporation, nor is it intended to be used for marketing purposes to any existing or prospective investor of USG. This report is not a forecast of future results for USG and actual results of USG may differ materially from those of the commercial construction industry.
Where the Index is Available
Each quarterly Index published is available on the USG Corporation website as well as on the

About USG Corporation
USG Corporation is an industry-leading manufacturer of building products and innovative solutions. Headquartered in Chicago, USG serves construction markets around the world through its Gypsum, Performance Materials, Ceilings, and USG Boral divisions. Its wall, ceiling, flooring, sheathing and roofing products provide the solutions that enable customers to build the outstanding spaces where people live, work and play. Its USG Boral Building Products joint venture is a leading plasterboard and ceilings producer across Asia, Australasia and the Middle East. For additional information, visit
About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
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U.S. Chamber Press Contact 
Contact: J.D. Harrison

USG Corporation Press Contact
Contact: Kathleen Prause







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