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Survey: Washington Needs More Skilled Laborers To Keep Up With Construction

A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that Washington and other states are facing a shortage of craft workers like carpenters and painters.
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A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that Washington and other states are facing a shortage of craft workers like carpenters and painters.

As the nation recovers from the recession and more construction projects pop up, contractors across the country are having trouble finding enough people to build those projects.

A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that employers, including 75 percent of those surveyed in Washington state, are struggling to find skilled crafts workers. These are people like carpenters and painters who make up the bulk of the labor force on a given project. 

As demand for construction gets higher, a shortage could mean more costs for the consumer, according to AGC spokesman Brian Turmail.

"It means things will take a little longer to get built and might cost a little more to get built," Turmail said.

Nancy Munro is the executive manager of Kirkland-based MidMountain Contractors. She emphasized that it's not just a shortage of workers, but that contractors in Washington were missing craftspeople with the right skills and experience.

"The quality of our entry-level craft workers is of concern, and companies have to spend more time and money training these entry-level workers," Munro said.

The shortage in Washington could last for several years, she said.

But contractors in the state are building an advertising campaign to encourage people to think of construction as a career and seek out training programs that feed into the industry.

These are programs that can be found in technical colleges, like the carpentry program at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, or through vocational organizations, like the Construction Industry Training Council of Washington

A Seattle native and former knkx intern, Simone Alicea has returned to the Pacific Northwest from covering breaking news at the Chicago Sun-Times. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.
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