DENVER (CBS4) – From work at the Twin Tunnels to apartment buildings going up all over the Denver metro area, construction is booming in Colorado, and demand for construction workers could be out-stripping the supply.
One site looking for help is the Union Station project in Denver’s Lower Downtown. Officials didn’t have an exact figure to share with CBS4 but say 2/3rds of construction firms nationally report having trouble staffing their sites with qualified workers.
An economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson, says the difficulty to find construction workers will remain or get worse throughout 2014.
During Tuesday’s news conference held at Union Station Simonson outlined a new program to help identify and train those interested in careers in construction. Some of those measures include immigration reform, which would allow foreign construction workers to enter the country, especially in areas where a lack of workers undermines economy recovery.
Simonson also mentioned measures like building more technical schools so students know construction is a path. He says the plan they’re encouraging is much like the Regional Transportation District’s Workforce Initiative Now (WIN) program.
RTD General Manager Phillip Washington spoke on the WIN program at Union Station Tuesday and said the jobs the program has been able to create has caused a chain reaction for Colorado’s economy.
“We have created 10,000 jobs — 10,000 jobs at the height of construction. And guess what? All of those people were not trained to do construction, but we’ve got training partners out there that have helped us prepare people to go to work,” Washington said.
Washington said at the Union Station site alone there are 600 to 700 construction workers employed, which he called proof positive that Denver is indeed rapidly growing.
The Construction Industry Training Council offers apprenticeship classes. Visit http://www.citcinc.org for more information.