Special Report: The Grand Valley's Labor Shortage Part III

By: Mike DeFina Email
By: Mike DeFina Email

With a population nearing 140,000 people, Mesa County estimates that number will hit the 200,000 mark by 2019 which is just 12 years away. Of course, all those people will need places to live and to work, but with a current shortage of skilled labor affecting every sector, what is being done to plan for the future?

The construction sector is seeing two problems: one is age and the other is turning young folks on to the career path. To many, construction is the definition of physical labor and as you get older the work gets tougher.

"It's hard physically, as the years stack up it gets harder to do the bending and knee work," Vice President of Finance for Mays Concrete Dan Roberts said.

Hence a new problem. In addition to a lack of skilled, experienced workers, an aging construction sector is not finding suitable replacements to fill the gap. Western Colorado Community College in Grand Junction, along with Associated Builders and Contractors are trying to fill the generation gap.

"ABC has responded by taking people who do not have experience, and training them in sheet metal, electronics, heavy equipment, three areas that are seeing shortages," ABC President and CEO David Myers said.

Classes at WCCC or apprentice programs through ABC are the future according to some and the programs are seeing a wide range of students.

Construction experts also say that the industry is perfect for high school students who aren't quite sure about their future, saying that the skills aren't only portable, but the opportunity to eventually own your own business is also a selling point.

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