Groups Urge Congress to Address Worker Shortage

Fri April 29, 2016 - National Edition

Leading construction industry organizations are calling on Congress to make career technical education (CTE) a top policy priority.
Leading construction industry organizations are calling on Congress to make career technical education (CTE) a top policy priority.

Leading construction industry organizations are calling on Congress to make career technical education (CTE) a top policy priority. In a letter to lawmakers coordinated by Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) and delivered on April 18, 23 national associations urged members of the House and Senate to swiftly reauthorize and improve programs designed to help train technical workers.

The groups praised Congress for recently passing transportation and tax bills but said the difficulty recruiting workers threatened to undermine the economic benefits.

“By restoring near-term certainty to federal transportation programs and tax policy through passage of the FAST and PATH Acts in late 2015, Congress has set the stage for growth in construction, manufacturing, and business purchasing,” the letter said. “However, as companies prepare to take advantage of new opportunities, they are confronted with a new challenge: a shortage of skilled technical workers.”

The letter from construction, contractor, supplier and labor organizations highlighted the stark findings of a recently-released study sponsored by the AED Foundation. That report, prepared by researchers at the College of William and Mary, found the equipment technician shortage is costing dealers approximately $2.4 billion per year in lost revenue and economic activity. Citing a lack of “hard skills” as the top reason technician positions are going unfilled, the study noted that vacancies at construction equipment dealerships remain open for longer than three times the national average.

“The workforce challenges facing the construction equipment industry aren't unique,” AED President & CEO Brian McGuire said. “Companies up and down the supply chain in every industry are having trouble finding the workers they need to thrive. Congress urgently needs to shine a spotlight on the issue and explore solutions as this problem will continue to get worse if left unaddressed.”

The letter said reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act would be an opportunity for Congress to put new policies in place to encourage better coordination between businesses, schools and government at the local, state and federal levels. The Perkins Act, which provides funding for CTE programs, is long-overdue for reauthorization and updating. The organizations reminded lawmakers that a reliable American technical education system will help students launch well-paying careers and companies seize new opportunities — a bipartisan effort on Perkins will help make the United States more competitive in the global economy.

The following organizations signed the letter:

American Coal Ash Association

American Concrete Pavement Association

American Concrete Pipe Association

American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association

American Institute of Steel Construction

American Rental Association

American Road and Transportation Builders Association

American Supply Association

American Traffic Safety Services Association

Associated Equipment Distributors

Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International

Mason Contractors Association of America

National Asphalt Pavement Association

National Association of Manufacturers

National Ground Water Association

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association

National Steel Bridge Alliance

National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association

National Utility Contractors Association

Portland Cement Association

Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute

For more information, visit