Special event this week for job seekers in construction industry

The Cincinnati Regional Construction Career Fair, the only construction-specific recruiting event planned for the region, will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Cincinnati. STAFF FILE PHOTO
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The Cincinnati Regional Construction Career Fair, the only construction-specific recruiting event planned for the region, will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Cincinnati. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Growth in commercial and industrial construction is strong, growing every year since 2010.

That’s according to John Morris, president of trade group Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors.

“The last 12 months have been slightly lower than the most recent peak in 2016, but still strong overall in almost all sectors — health care, retail, education, etc.,” Morris told this media outlet. “That said, construction unemployment in Ohio remains slightly higher than the national average as other states have favorable business climates which are attracting more industry and new development. We could be even better.”

The trade group is helping organize the Cincinnati Regional Construction Career Fair, the only construction-specific recruiting event planned for the region.

Job seekers looking to get a leg up on the competition can turn out to the event, scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Cincinnati.

More than 50 booths have been sold to employers hiring for electricians, landscapers, crafts people and other positions, Morris said.

One of the largest contributing factors to challenges in the construction industry is growth in demand coming back following the recession, he said.

“During the economic downturn, we had a number of skilled tradespeople, especially the younger portion of our industry, leave our industry and move into other sectors like manufacturing and health care and they’re not coming back,” Morris said.

With the economy in recession and stock market staying stagnant, those workers stayed put for a few years longer than they would have during better times.

“With the gangbuster return of the stock market, a lot of our seasoned tradespeople can afford to retire again and they’re choosing to do so,” Morris said. “We have to replenish with a younger group of individuals. We’re retiring two to three craftspeople with every new person we bring in.

“We’re an aged industry and it’s only going to get precipitously worse in the next few years.”

Jennifer Payne, the director of human resources for Fairfield-based Loveland Excavating & Paving, said finding a workforce that has the necessary construction experience is a challenge.

“It’s one thing to go through a heavy-equipment operation class,” she said. “They know to how to run a machine, but they don’t have the ability to work on a team and know how all of the pieces fit together to make it happen.”

Payne said the company is looking into a possible apprenticeship program.

“I understand that, come spring time, we need people up and running that have the experience, but at some point we need to invest time in the inexperienced workforce and get them trained, up to speed to move into the next (level),” she said.

Loveland Excavating & Paving also is putting a plan in place to help employees advance through a desired career path and to their ultimate career goals within the company, Payne said.