Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman (VA-5) called on Congress to take steps to address construction workforce shortages and pass a long-term infrastructure bill during a visit to a local construction firm April 23. The Congressman made his comments while touring a local construction project by R.E. Lee & Son Inc. along with representatives of the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and the Associated General Contractors of America.
"Congress needs serious leaders who will work hard to find solutions to our nation's most pressing issues," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Rep. Riggleman is distinguishing himself as a serious legislator who wants to see firsthand how critical issues like workforce development, infrastructure investments and regulatory reform impact our member companies and the construction industry."
While touring the jobbsite the construction officials and Riggleman discussed the need for Congress to address the workforce shortage in the construction industry and pass a long-term infrastructure bill. They noted that a January 2019 AGC of America survey of Virginia construction contractors found that 92 percent of those contractors are having a hard time filling some or all positions.
The Congressman and construction officials also talked about the need for Congress to pass new infrastructure measures and to continue with regulatory reform. They also discussed the industry's impact on the economic health of the district, commonwealth, and country. The tour took place at the more than 5,000 sq. ft. addition that R.E. Lee & Son Inc. is building for ReadyKids, a local non-profit for early childhood development.
Dick Abidin, president of R.E. Lee & Son Inc. said, "I am proud to show the congressman the important work our firm does in central Virginia. More importantly, I am encouraged to see his understanding of and eagerness to address the workforce deficiency our industry and many others in the business community face."
"The workforce crisis in construction is only getting bigger, we have over 217,000 unfilled positions in skilled trades here in Virginia," added Gordon Dixon, chief executive officer of AGCVA. "AGCVA is doing its part by working with Congressman Riggleman and other trade groups to retrain our education providers' parents and elected official that skilled trades are not just a viable career option but necessary for economic prosperity."
"Being a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges facing people in the business community and I am committed to finding solutions to their problems," said Riggleman. "We need to adapt to the changing challenges facing our workforce, where jobs are no longer blue collar or white collar, but ‘new-collar.' Incentivizing privately run trade schools and making more capital available for construction companies will help grow our economy in the 5th district, Virginia, and across the nation."
For more information, visit www.agc.org.