FIGHTING THE SKILLS GAP

The men in hardhats compacting fake stone, pouring concrete and handling other jobmfah-constructions on the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston work site typically are paired up based on experience levels. Thus, a 20-year construction veteran often finds himself working alongside someone with just weeks under his belt.

It’s a vivid illustration of what industry leaders say is an ongoing struggle in a city forecasting more commercial and residential building projects this year even as a recovering energy business beckons skilled workers with higher pay. There may be enough skilled construction workers to meet demand this year, but that could change dramatically by early 2019.

As the baby boomers continue to approach retirement and immigration crackdowns continue, firms that procrastinated in building up the next generation to replace them face a 20-year skill gap in their workforce. Meanwhile, an improving economy, corporate tax cuts and Hurricane Harvey reconstruction efforts are putting more jobs on their schedules.

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