Construction companies across Hampton Roads facing worker shortage

HAMPTON ROADS, VA – It’s no secret that Hampton Roads is growing. Everywhere you look you see new buildings,

apartments and housing.

But there is a problem: workers are scarce.

A shortage of 1 million construction workers in the next two years – those are predicted losses by the Association of Builders and Contractors.

“We’ve been through a few things in our 100 or so years and this is by far the worst,” said JD Miles of JD Miles Roofing in Chesapeake.

Miles knows a thing or two about construction and roofing, he’s been in business since 1910. What he doesn’t know right now is finding workers.

“People don’t want to work with their hands anymore, roofing is heavy, construction is heavy,” he said.

His workforce has halved in the past year.

“It’s a tsunami in the construction industry without the next generation of skilled workers,” said Sheri Miles of Virginia Builds and the Builders and Contractors Exchange.

She says it’s due to a host of issues.

“So many people are retiring and we have the major layoff caused by COVID,” Miles said. “Immigrants are also a problem for seasonal workers, the channel to get here is closed.”

She also says that the lack of trade skills taught in schools or apprenticeships is also quite concrete these days.

“We don’t teach our kids that it’s a noble profession,” says JD Miles.

Not only is labor shortage a problem, but getting supplies is also a problem, said JD Miles. COVID has closed production sites, so sourcing materials is slow and costs are skyrocketing.

“From wood to installation to glue to glue, everything is out of reach,” said JD Miles

So even if you know that growth and the housing market is booming, those who are doing the actual construction are hard to pin down, even in a field that pays more than 60 to 80 thousand.

“We can’t build houses, fix your plumbing, run your air conditioning, get a roof on your house, there’s no people to do it,” Sherri Miles said.

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