WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) – There are a variety of construction projects across the state, from new hotels to a major renovation at Burlington Airport. But many companies struggle to find construction workers for the abundance of work. As part of our ongoing series of high-demand jobs, our Kayla Martin visited SD Ireland Companies, a Williston-based construction company.
Shea Ireland has been working on construction sites since his youth and rose to the position of supervisor in his family business, SD Ireland Companies. “Part of my family’s business so I’ve been around since I was 13 and 14 and only work after school,” he said
Although entering the field was a matter of course for him, it is not so easy to find other workers and keep the existing ones. “Maybe because of the pandemic. The construction industry is badly affected by the aging workforce. We have a lot of retired people, ”said Byron Furman, SD Ireland’s Director of Safety & Training.
The company is not getting as many applicants as it used to, said company VP Kim Ireland. “In the past it was between 10 and 15 a day and we might get that for a week,” she said.
Shea says the shortage is taking its toll. “That affects us a lot,” he says. “The planned construction times are the same and we just have fewer staff, which means more stress and work for me and my boys.”
Furman says new projects take longer if they don’t get more workers. But they have a plan to attract younger people, a work-based learning program in collaboration with all of the local technology centers. “It’s basically a competency-based program that allows someone to graduate from either a technical high school or an adult learning process and build a certain level of income based on the skills they can achieve within a given amount of time,” Furman said.
“Someone with no experience starts at $ 16 an hour and goes up from there based on experience, the number of hours you are willing to work. We’re always ready to offer overtime if you want it to work, ”added Kim.
“When you work in construction – especially for our company – the limits of what you can do are as far as possible,” said Furman.
SD Ireland currently has at least two dozen job vacancies, from CDL drivers to mechanics to heavy machinery operators. For most positions, applicants do not need any previous knowledge other than a CDL.
“Really, the work week is getting up when it’s dark, going to bed when it’s dark,” Shea said.
“Hard worker, ambition, show up every day,” added Furman. He says it’s hard work but also rewarding. “Just know that if you build something here with us, you can drive on this structure – or whatever it is – for many years to come, knowing that you were involved in it.”
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