Shortage of skilled workers creates challenge for B/CS construction boom

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX - The sights and sounds of construction are nothing new in Bryan/College Station, but there's a shortage of workers in the construction industry locally.

That means the projects you see around town are taking a bit longer to finish.

"We have houses right now that, unfortunately, there's no one working on them because we don't have enough workers" explained Zachary Johnson, who is a project superintendent for Schaefer Custom Homes.

Johnson graduated from Texas A&M's Construction Science Department in 2014. Because of all the building in the Brazos Valley, he didn't have to go far for a job.

"I had offers to go to big cities like Austin and Houston and Dallas, but I felt like here in town, there was so much growth here in Bryan/College Station that there was a need for it here, so I decided to stay," said Johnson.

A&M Construction Science is recruiting in hopes of getting more students like Zachary to jump into the industry that's in such high demand.

"Our program, for example, has grown from 600 students four years ago to about 1,200 students just in the last four years, and that's a direct result of construction companies trying to hire our students," explained Joe Horlen, the department head for A&M's Construction Science program.

While the process has started, this shortage of workers can't be fixed overnight.

"The long term remedy is to get more people involved in the industry over time, but that's a long term remedy. It's a slow process to catch up with the demand," said Horlen.

Local home builders are trying to keep up with the demand for new homes, but at times, they have to delay their projects when there aren't enough licensed workers.

"If the AC guys and the electricians had a bunch of skilled workers, it would be great. We could get a lot more things done," explained Michael Anzaldua, a project manager for Schaefer Custom Homes.

Anzaldua said that licensed H-VAC and plumbing technicians have been the toughest for them to find.