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$1.6B invested to upskill workforce education, study shows

Associated Builders and Contractors released its 2024 Workforce Development Survey, which found its member contractors invested $1.6 billion to provide craft, leadership and health and safety education to more than 1.3 million course attendees nationwide in 2023, up from $1.5 billion in 2022 and on track with $1.6 billion in 2021.

Other key findings include:

  • Safety education accounts for the greatest share of total workforce investment at 59%, which has remained stable since 2022.
  • ABC contractors invested an average of 7.5% of payroll on workforce development in 2023, slightly down from 8% in 2022.
  • Trade and specialty contractors continued to increase their share of the total workforce development investment, which grew to 50% in 2023 from 42% in 2022.
  • 58% of respondents reported a labor shortage that is severe or very severe, citing an exodus of baby boomers as the top contributor.
  • 81% of respondents who utilize virtual or augmented reality used it for safety education.

“ABC member contractors not only build and rebuild structures with excellence, but they also help build lifelong, durable, transferable skill sets for their employees by investing billions to cultivate their career progression in commercial and industrial construction,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “This investment is in response to the need for more than half a million additional construction workers in 2024 alone. Workforce development is part of the culture of ABC member contractors, which continue to choose flexible, competency-based and market-driven methods to upskill their workforces. Construction is among the few industries where an individual can become an apprentice, earn a paycheck while learning the skills needed for their chosen craft and receive a portable, industry-recognized credential that will further their career.”

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The annual workforce development survey quantifies the scope of ABC members’ education and upskilling initiatives to advance their employees’ careers in commercial and industrial construction to build the places where we gather, live, work, learn and heal.

ABC’s all-of-the-above approach to upskilling has produced a network of more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, health and safety and management education programs—including more than 450 government-registered apprenticeship programs across 20 different occupations—in order to develop a safe, skilled and productive workforce. ABC chapters also have 328 entry-point programs in place nationally to welcome all to begin a career in construction. Members contribute about $500,000 annually to ABC’s Trimmer Construction Education Fund to support the development of a skilled, safe and sustainable workforce through grants awarded to its chapters.

Industry consulting firm FMI conducted the 2024 Workforce Development Survey from Jan. 4 to May 20, 2024. Aggregated data was 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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