Construction News Tracker Video: Skilled Construction Workers Hard to Come By

A recent AGC poll found 74% of contractors are having difficulty finding skilled employees plus more industry news on the September 19, 2013, edition of Construction News Tracker

Skilled construction workers vanish...

House Transportation Chief takes a ride in a ghost car...

A major milestone for Caterpillar...

And states show decreased use of vehicles...

That and more on Construction News Tracker brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by

A recent AGC nationwide poll finds that 74 percent of contractors are having difficulty finding skilled employees. Despite the national employment rate dipping to a five year low in August at 9.1 percent, the number is really misleading. Chief Economist Ken Simonson, who conducted the poll, said the combination of a major culutral shift away from the trades to four-year degrees, technology advances and declining wage base is leaving some construction fields under manned. Now that the economy is bounding back with new projects underway it's nearly impossible to find those workers who have trade skills needed to fill jobs.

House Transportation Committee Chair Bill Schuster calls his recent ride impressive. It should be; he was among the first to experience a driverless vehicle. The jaunt took him from Carnegie Mellow University to Pittsburg International Airport, which coincidentally is in his Republican district. Senior Engineer Jarrod Snider explained some of the features. The car is owned by the school and used for testing purposes. Schuster said his experience was great and demonstrates the need for the U.S. to be at the forefront of this new technology.

What Will Driverless Cars Mean to You?

How Will Driverless Cars Impact the Design and Construction of Highways and Bridges?

Another $474 million in federal money has been awarded in the form of Tiger Grants to rural communities. Fifty-two projects in rural areas were selected in the fifth round of DOT transportation generating economic recover money since the program was created in 2009.

Caterpillar's 988 large wheel loader has reached the milestone of 50 years in production. was at the Cat plant near Aurora, Ill., as CEO Doug Oberhelman was among company officials and the media to signify 50 years of production, and the Tier 4 rated newest 988K was presented to Myron Hones of Superstition Crushing of Arizona.

Video: Features of the New Cat 988K Wheel Loader

Cat employees and representatives of Empire Cat, the Arizona dealer, beamed with pride as the keys were handed over. I asked CEO Doug Oberhelman what 50 years of manufacturing the 988 means to the company...

According to the U.S. public interest group, all but four states have recorded less miles driven in the past 10 years, compared with previous ones. And the four are: Alabama, Nevada, North Dakota and Louisiana. The group claims it bolsters the need for new transportation funding mechanisms as more people give up vehicles in exchange for other transportation modes.

Right in line with this story comes an idea from the Federal DOT. Now working on a strategic plan for 2014 to 2018, the agency is enlisting all Americans with a transportation interest to take part - and they have a mechanism for doing just that. DOT has placed its plan up for review and comment at the following website: Or you may email feedback to the DOT at

It appears to be time to speak up and be counted if you want construction industry input.

In closing, business is like a wheel barrow; nothing ever happens until you start pushing.