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General Contractors Report A Shortage Of Skilled Craftsmen In NC

A picture of a modern stone mason at work.
Vladimer Shioshvili
North Carolina general contractors say they can't find enough carpenters, stone masons and other skilled workers to meet demand.

As the demand for construction has started to rebound, there's a shortage of qualified craft workers.

Associated General Contractors of America says 86 percent of general contractors in North Carolina say they can't fine enough plumbers, masons, carpenters and concrete workers. That's in line with the national rate.

Spokesman Brian Turmail says the economic recession hurt the industry, and many laborers haven't come back.

"So, either we get more expensive buildings, or we take longer to build buildings. Ultimately, our worry is it would undermine the recovery in the construction industry," says Turmail.

"We're in this weird place where, a few years ago, we didn't have enough work, and now we don't have enough workers to do the work."

Josh Mauney owns Paragon Building Groupin Raleigh. He says he's is having trouble finding brick masons and skilled carpenters.

"It's a dying breed, and the 50-somethings and 60-somethings do a lot of that work to now that we depend on are just not being replaced," says Mauney. "And it's difficult work. A lot of these folks are doing very well financially, but they're also putting in lots of hours and I don't think that's attractive."

Mauney says it could help if students were exposed to the option of vocational work before high school.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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