By Mark Minter, executive director, Arizona Builders Alliance
Joe DuVall, president, ABA, project executive, Kitchell
Sometimes, it looked like the Great Recession was never going to end. Layoffs, shrinking or non-existent margins, projects that bid but never got built all seemed to be the order of the day in recent years.
It looks like the years of frustration may be over. Recent trends in Arizona indicate that construction job numbers are on the rebound and projects with real financing seem to be working their way back into the market. In the last year, Arizona experienced 2-percent growth in construction employment — the first real job growth experienced in construction in a number of years.
Additionally, there are a number of large projects that should be underway in the near future. Projects in hospitality, health care and speculative office/retail are poised to start later this year or in early 2016.
Contractors are reporting healthy rebounds in backlog and prospective projects to bid. With that, the potential for labor shortages is around the corner. Many construction workers retired or left Arizona for greener pastures when the market collapsed in 2009. Contractors will be faced with the challenges of recruiting trade and professional workers to the industry. Once hired, those new employees will need to be trained and acculturated to the construction industry.
The Arizona Builders Alliance offers a variety of programs aimed at helping contractors with workforce training issues. ABA operates apprentice and training programs for electricians, mechanical workers and heavy equipment operators. The programs are offered at Gateway Community College, Central Arizona College and by online correspondence for students on remote or out-of-state projects.
New professional employees to the industry face the same level of need for training. The ABA has an entire series of training in legal, safety, financial and managerial areas. For a complete list of upcoming classes, visit azbuilders.org.