Survey Finds Nearly Half of Contractors Believe Training the Next Generation of Workers is a Critical Need

A new survey released from DEWALT® found more than half of U.S. contractors (55 percent) feel a lack of skilled workers is a barrier to growing their current business. Looking to the future, 48 percent believe training the next generation of trade professionals is one of the most critical needs for the success of the construction industry in 2023.

“The DEWALT Powering the Future Survey sheds further light on the wide-reaching gap in skilled labor and its continued impact on the residential and commercial construction industries. Add to that the overwhelming demand for trades expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic and the [skilled-labor] gap is quickly becoming the most critical need that will dictate the future success of the field,” said Allison Nicolaidis, president of the power tools group, Stanley Black & Decker. “That’s why DEWALT is committed to putting a heavier spotlight on these challenges and taking a lead role in supporting our industrial and construction partners to overcome them. DEWALT will further its commitment to closing the skills deficit with the launch of the DEWALT Trade Scholarship to support trades education programs for students across the country.”

Keeping up with inflation (57 percent), finding skilled workers/being understaffed (51 percent), and working long hours (37 percent) are the top three most significant challenges that U.S. contractors surveyed are currently facing. When it comes to the effects those challenges are having on the industry, an overwhelming majority of contractors—93 percent—feel the lack of skilled workers has had at least a minor impact on their existing work.

Top Challenges

Half of those contractors who have had their work impacted by the labor shortage (50 percent) cite the primary causes for the gap as a lack of awareness around career paths in construction, followed by outside influences (parents, media, etc.) that guide younger people away from pursuing a career in the industry (47 percent), as well as an underestimation of how much money can be made in the industry (41 percent).

Mentorship Matters

A great deal of importance is placed on mentorship programs regardless of contractor level, tenure, or type, with 67 percent of all contractors labeling these programs as extremely important with an additional 24 percent identifying these programs as moderately important. A larger majority of contractors with extensive experience (20+ years) or high business revenue ($10MM or more) find these programs to be extremely important (71 percent and 78 percent respectively) in providing the latest training to help young professionals prepare for onsite work. In addition, more than half (53 percent) of contractors surveyed say mentorship increases excitement about construction as a career path.

Health and Wellbeing are Essential

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors have experienced numerous changes in the industry. According to the survey, the number one takeaway (39 percent) from the pandemic among contractors is the importance of employee mental health and wellbeing.

Most contractors (56 percent) have been working more hours since 2019. Nearly 40 percent of all contractors surveyed say longer hours have made their jobs more difficult.

2023 Forecast

Half of contractors (48 percent) identify training the next generation of workers as one of the most critical industry focus areas in 2023 and beyond. Seasoned contractors are particularly committed to training the next generation of workers, with 63 percent of those in the industry for 20 or more years indicating this is a paramount goal for the future.

DEWALT partnered with strategic insights agency Opinium to conduct a survey of 1,001 full-time home and building contractors. “Full-time home and building contractors” are defined as those who work in building/construction for 40 or more hours per week. The study was conducted between September 21 – September 30, 2022.

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