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Labor Shortages And Getting Creative In Dallas Construction

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General contractors dream about an abundance of skilled workers and modestly priced materials. Instead of dreaming, VCC Construction managing director Derek Alley tries to get creative — and stay realistic — about material prices and labor shortages. 

Builders, contractors, construction workers

“Creating relationships on the front end allows you to make sure you allocate the right resources to your development,” he said. It is hard to be successful without pre-planning. 

Getting creative is project-specific, Alley said, but he has used various techniques to mitigate issues and expenses, such as delivering materials on a small site the day they are needed to eliminate the need to store them, using technology to mitigate shortages of labor, and prefabricating as much as possible. 

The construction industry has added 177,000 jobs over the past six months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But regardless of planning and creativity, President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policies and border wall will have an impact on the already struggling construction labor pool. Alley said, regardless of political opinions, the real estate world can look at the more than 200,000 open construction sector jobs and recognize that those workers must come domestically or through immigration.

In a state where some contractors are posting guards at their sites to prevent labor poaching, the idea of an even wider labor gap sounds scary to anyone involved in a development.

“Either we figure out through technology and innovation how to fill that gap with vocational schools and a trained domestic labor force, or immigrants happen,” he said. 

Hear more from Alley at our Dallas State of the Market event on Thursday. Get tickets here.