In our recent State of the Industry survey, 60 percent of contractors in the survey listed “finding qualified workers” as a pressing problem. Randy Giggard, Managing Director, Research Services Group, FMI Corporation, let us know why. He said:

“The design and construction industry has shed more than 2 million total jobs since the start of the recession. As odd as this may sound, the industry is facing an imminent craft labor shortage as recovery takes root. This recession has differed from those of the past, particularly in its duration. Many of these skilled workers were displaced three or four years ago. In most cases, these workers have retrained, struck out on their own, or developed a new career path. The bottom line is that they won’t be coming back.

“FMI forecasts modest market recovery beginning in 2012 and accelerating to 2015. The recovery will expand the value of construction put in place for all buildings from $617 billion in 2011 to $878 billion in 2015, a total increase of 42 percent. Effects of the recession on the roofing industry have been moderated somewhat by the heavy mix of re-roof and repair work. But as new construction returns, FMI estimates that the market will demand 31,000 new roofers in the workforce by 2015. Given the lead time to train productive new workers, progressive roofing contractors need to begin planning now for who they will need and where they will come from.”

Giggard’s comments will be included in our upcoming State of the Industry report, which will be published in the February issue of Roofing Contractor. I’ll also be presenting some of our exclusive survey results as part of a webinar on Feb. 14, so stay tuned for registration information.