The Future Construction Workforce: The Sounds of Silence

It happened pretty quietly and without fanfare, but it’s one of those “silent statistics” that has the potential to bring real change to our industry and to construction in general. Let me explain.

Last year, for the first time, the average annual salary of construction workers passed those of college graduates. It wasn’t by a lot—$59,124 for the college grads vs. $59,267 for the construction workers—but it was significant and seen as the continuation of a trend that hasn’t peaked yet.

What’s up? Well, demand for one. The U.S. has a high demand for workers in construction jobs (especially the very skilled ones like plumbers, electricians, ironworkers and glaziers) but not enough who can do them. Add to that a society where many of those holding these jobs are aging out, retiring and not being replaced as well as one that values college diplomas above all else and you see the problem. Plus most of our high schools focus on the numbers of kids going into two- and four-year colleges and the military without giving trade schools and apprenticeships the respect they deserve.

It’s starting to change, though that change is slow. One look at the chart here shows you how things have changed. And they need to continue to change. We need to elevate, expand and embrace the future of our glass and metal professionals. More in the coming months on this.

On a Happy Note:

Ankit Patel greets editor Jordan Scott at Reagan airport last October after glasstec.

I noticed that glasstec 2020 began accepting registrations this week. For Jordan Scott, who edits the Architect’s Guide to Glass & Metal and works on USGlass magazine, her first visit to the show in 2018 ended with quite a memory. Jordan missed her connecting flight from New York and had to wait for the next flight, leaving her boyfriend waiting at the airport in D.C.

“I noticed he was particularly anxious that I was delayed, but I chalked it up to just me being exhausted from the show,” Jordan recounts.

What she didn’t know is that her boyfriend, Ankit, was waiting for her at Reagan National with friends and family in tow and an engagement ring in pocket. When Jordan landed, he proposed and she promptly said yes. What a great way to end a trip to glasstec!

The future Mr. and Mrs. Ankit Patel