GORHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Leaders of Maine’s construction industry say they continue to have a serious problem finding enough people to do all the building.
Construction is busy right now, especially in southern Maine, but some companies say they are turning down work because of the labor shortage. Southern Maine Community College on Wednesday announced a new effort to recruit and train the new generation of workers.
SMCC is starting what it calls the Construction Institute. It will provide training to new and current construction workers, using short courses targeting specific job skills. College President Ron Cantor told a press conference they hope the Institute will allow people to get training while still being able to hold down a job to support
"We said to the industry, 'What are the skills you need?'" said Cantor. "They said things like print reading and framing methods and construction safety. Put those together, short term workshops, they can go get a job."
Those new courses will begin in the fall.
For businesses like Great Falls Construction, which is currently building a new headquarters, brewery and restaurant for Sebago Brewing in Gorham, the need for more workers has become a major concern.
"Of course in southern Maine the need is acute," said company owner John Smith.
"I know we could expand our workforce 15 to 20 percent easy if we could find the people."
Smith also said the industry needs to do a better job of recruiting young people -- current high school and college grads -- to take an interest in construction.
And Smith said it's about more than just the need to fill current openings. He said construction, like most other Maine industries, has an aging workforce, with many workers starting to near retirement. He said the industry needs a new generation to learn those skills and take over from the ones who will retire.