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Construction Firms Can't Find Qualified Workers In Ohio, Industry Group Says

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An interest group representing construction firms nationwide says nearly three quarters of Ohio firms are having trouble finding qualified workers.

The Associated General Contractors of America reports 77 percent of construction firms across the country are having difficulty finding craft construction workers to hire - that means roles like electricians, equipment operators and construction workers.

The organization says Ohio firms are making an effort to change the way they operate, recruit and compensate workers.

According to national spokesperson Brian Turmail, over a third of Ohio firms say they're increasing base pay rate to recruit and retain employees.

“Half the firms say they’re working workers more overtime, 48 percent say they’re doing more in-house training especially to cope with the fact that there’s more folks coming into the industry that don’t have a lot of construction background,” Turmail says.

Turmail notes the Ohio Carpenters' Joint Apprenticeship & Training Program reports improvement in the age of people joining its program.

“The average age of a new apprentice has gone down over the last couple of years," Turmail says. "They’re starting to see kids from high school, once they graduate, come into their apprenticeship training program. Where four years ago they were getting 27 and 28 year olds, folks who had tried other jobs and decided they would fall back on construction, whereas now we’re seeing high school kids choose construction."

He says the industry overall is not seeing significant change despite these efforts, and that more prospective employees need to be reached while still in high school.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.