With an estimated $20 billion worth of construction-related projects underway and planned for the next few years, the San Francisco Bay Area is already facing a labor shortage that offers opportunities for ex-offenders who have skills or who are willing to enter apprenticeships.
These projects include more than $4.7 billion in hospital construction projects to be completed by 2016 and 19 highway and transit-related projects estimated to total $5 billion and paid for by money from a bond passed in 2006. These ventures and others like them require thousands of workers. There aren’t enough people in the Bay Area with the appropriate skills to fill the available jobs, and the shortage of workers is expected to continue.
“The way we know that there’s a shortage is that the out-of-work lists (lists of names of union members who are looking for work) have diminished to the extent that they’re non-existent,” says Michael Theriault, secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council.
Ironworkers are about to face a shortage, according to Theriault. There’s a need for those trades that are involved in the early stages of projects such as structural work and site work, including workers who are laborers, pile drivers, structural engineers, plumbers and electricians.
The shortages of workers in the finished trades, such as painters, glaziers, carpet layers and even carpenters, will not develop as quickly. Workers, especially those at journey-level, however, are in such demand that it might be necessary to bring them in from outside the region.
Although there may be opportunities in the Bay Area that may not necessarily be the case in other areas. “The shortage of workers is not going to be the same across the country. The economy is recovering faster in the Bay Area because of the tech industry,” says Theriault.
Not only are there opportunities in the trades, but they are a particularly friendly place for ex-offenders to find work. “There’s no barrier whatsoever of having a record and participating in the trades. We’re one of the fields that’s most open to hiring ex-offenders,” says Theriault. “I’ve worked side-by-side with many and known them to be great hands.”
“We hope that ex offenders consider us a possible home. It’s a serious living and challenging and rewarding at the same time. We look forward to their participation in our trades.”
For more information about the San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council and for information about apprentice program requirements, visit http://www.sfbuildingtradescouncil.org.