Delivering roadway improvements that have been promised to the residents of the region takes resources, materials, funding and, most of all, skilled labor. Construction is an important part of our region’s workforce and, as of 2018, the construction industry jobs occupied 4.3 percent of the workforce pie in the Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA).1
The availability of skilled workers to meet our transportation construction needs is essential. In order to meet this challenge, many industry groups are committed to keeping the existing local construction workforce intact, as well as developing new talent.
Pima Association of Governments Deputy Director Jim DeGrood says the 2008 recession had a profound effect on the transportation construction industry. “Many people left the market and they didn’t come back. A whole generation has left the industry,” he said.
Local contractors involved in delivering projects in the Regional Transportation Authority plan are working together to develop and promote programs and opportunities for women and men to learn new skills and become successful in the construction industry. At the high school level, local construction companies support career and technical education events such as Southern Arizona Construction Career Days to help students forge career paths in the construction industry. Local companies also mentor prospective employees, help fund training programs and organize construction site visits.
At the collegiate level, Professor Dean Papajohn, Associate Professor of Practice for Civil and Architectural Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Arizona, says it’s a great time to be graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering/Construction Engineering Management, especially as the number of graduates from the state’s three universities cannot keep up with the demand for construction field engineers. “Students are getting numerous job offers and even multiple internship offers from construction companies. Our program is looking for more students to meet this industry need.”
The partnerships that educators, southern Arizona contractors and industry representatives have developed exist to make the regional construction workforce stronger in every way: people with good earning potential and excellent skills who deliver quality work that benefits us all.
1Employment Share by Industry, Making Action Possible, University of Arizona