Rochester, MN  (KROC AM News) - There is a serious demand for construction workers in Rochester and elsewhere and if something isn’t done about it soon, there could be a significant impact on the economy.

That was the message given in Rochester Tuesday by a longtime local contractor and a national association.

A recent survey found nearly 80-percent of construction firms in Minnesota are having a tough time hiring qualified workers. Some firms have been forced to coax workers to come out of retirement. Many also are forced to offer overtime pay to get a job completed.

A spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America says his organization is pushing for passage of a federal bill (Perkins Act) that would provide funding for construction-related career training. The trade group says other options are being pursued, including the hiring of more minority and female workers.

Aaron Benike of Rochester-based Benike Construction says there is a need for an apprenticeship academy for trade workers to meet the industry’s growing need. He applauded the Rochester School District for launching a similar program. Benike says if the demand for qualified workers isn’t met soon, many companies won’t be able to bid on new projects. He says some may have to find ways to get by with fewer workers.

According to the survey, most Minnesota firms report they are making a special effort to recruit women (97 percent); veterans (88 percent) and African Americans (82 percent). Meanwhile, 40 percent of firms in Minnesota report they have increased base pay rates for craft workers because of the difficulty in filling positions.  Eighteen percent have improved benefits for craft workers and 35 percent report they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers.

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