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Survey: ABC Members Invested $1.3 Billion in Construction Workforce Education in 2020

WASHINGTON, May 24—According to the results of the Associated Builders and Contractors 2021 Workforce Development Survey, ABC contractor members invested $1.3 billion in workforce development initiatives in 2020, providing craft, leadership and safety education to 500,000 course attendees to advance their careers in commercial and industrial construction.

Safety education accounted for 71% of the total workforce investment as per-person spending doubled, revealing an elevated focus on worker education, safety and total human health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“America’s economic engine is fueled by a workforce equipped with durable and transferable skill sets, and ABC members are dedicated to investing in essential safety education and professional development for craft and management professionals,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “Apprenticeship and career technical education provide the right tools to our nation’s workforce to not only build the places where Americans live, work, heal, play and learn, but also cultivate long-lasting and rewarding career opportunities.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • ABC members invested an average of 8.4% of payroll on workforce development in 2020, up from 7.9% in 2019.
  • Safety education accounted for 71% of total annual workforce education spending with the highest per-person investment, averaging $2,369 per employee, up from $1,147 in 2019. This was due primarily to repeated safety trainings required to comply with restrictions and keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The percentage of contractor members reporting a severe labor shortage declined 3% between 2019 and 2020, while those reporting a moderate labor shortage increased 5%.
  • Compared to 2019, general and construction management contractors have increased their share of the total workforce development investment, growing to 58% in 2020 from 21% in 2019.
  • Women in management/supervisory roles ticked up to 17% of the workforce in 2020 from 16% in 2019.
  • Approximately 70% of contractors reported partnerships with high school and college career and technical education internship programs.

ABC and its members are working hard to recruit, educate and upskill the nation’s future construction workforce through a network of more than 800 apprenticeship, craft training and safety programs across the country. In 2021, construction companies will need to hire 430,000 more workers than they employed in 2020, according to an ABC analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Every $1 billion in extra construction spending generates an average of at least 5,700 construction jobs.

Industry consulting firm FMI conducted the 2021 Workforce Development Survey to quantify the scope of workforce development initiatives by ABC member contractors. The survey was conducted from Jan. 5 to Feb. 12, 2021. Aggregated data were derived by calculating the average amount spent on education by each respondent and multiplying that by the total number of ABC contractor members.

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