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Covid-19 and The Future of Careers in Construction

For young people facing career choices over the next several years, the paths forward are at best murky. The screeching halt of the United States economy moving from the highest employment rate of recent history to depression levels leaves the career options for young people all but impossible to assess. At the same time, it is possible to predict core needs of the American population and the services needed to support them. Changes in the American landscape:

  1. Americans are living longer. The average age is now, and expected, to continue to rise. According to the NIH the number of people ages 65 or older is expected to double in the next 25 years. People 85 or older constitute the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Combined with expansion of medical coverage and the need for significantly expanded hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and specialized facilities such as imaging centers, it is certain to require significantly more workers skilled in the construction and outfitting of these facilities.
  2. Americans are staying home. The broad rejection of the nursing home model of care for the elderly and the increase for in-home supports means that seniors are staying in their own homes longer. This is creating a housing shortage for younger people moving into their communities. For some cities, notably on the West Coast, this is becoming a housing crisis. The need for trained, skilled construction workers is great and will continue to grow.
  3. America’s infrastructure is “crumbling .” It has become a cliché to put the term together – “America’s crumbling infrastructure” is an accurate description of the bridges, highways, buildings, water treatment facilities and much more that have failed to be properly maintained. As these needs reach crisis proportions, government will be forced to invest in these projects with a resulting major expansion of jobs in essential fields.
  4. There is a shortage of skilled, trained workers in key construction jobs. Nearly 3 million infrastructure workers are expected to retire or permanently leave their jobs in the next decade. An aging workforce combined with a lack of visibility, flexible training, or a pipeline of young talent has hit a crisis point, especially for smaller and underserved communities.

For young people concerning the future in the chaos of the coronavirus economic landscape, careers in construction trades offer a quick path to what will likely be an expanding demand for skilled workers in the years to come.