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Construction combine recruiting, training event to be held in April

The combine, a free two-day training and recruiting event, will be held April 7-8 in the Meridian Home Depot parking lot.
Credit: Jake King/The Idaho Press
A construction worker seen working on a house on Friday, April 16, 2021.

MERIDIAN, Idaho —

This article was originally published by the Idaho Press. 

Drive around anywhere in the Treasure Valley, and you’ll see construction. New buildings continue to rise up along Interstate 84. Crews are building new houses are throughout Canyon and Ada counties. 

But the construction industry is plagued by a labor shortage, which is why the Idaho Associated General Contractors and Paul Davis Restoration of Idaho are hosting the 2022 Construction Combine. The combine, a free two-day training and recruiting event, will be held April 7-8 in the Meridian Home Depot parking lot.

“Every one of those builders is desperate for laborers,” said Eric Hershberger, director of relationship development for Paul Davis Restoration of Idaho. “You look at all the building that’s going on around us, and all the need for housing and the need for places to put businesses that are expanding.” 

A big growth hurdle is finding people to do the work, Hershberger said. 

“We’ve got the management set up, we’ve got the processes … everything is ready,” Hershberger said, “if we can just get the boots on the ground.” 

The combine is targeting students and adult learners. Teams of students will learn about different industry trades on the first day. On the second, people will collaborate with contractors to build sheds, which will then be donated to local veterans. 

This is the first construction combine in the Treasure Valley. However, nine other locations in the state will hold their own construction combines. 

Last year, a few combines in the state were held but in 2020, only Twin Falls was able to hold its combine event before pandemic restrictions set in. 

In 2019, construction contributed over $5 billion to Idaho's Gross Domestic Product, according to the Associated General Contractors. That’s just below 7% of the state's total GDP.  

For Hershberger, construction employment provides a career path that's an alternative to college. Plus, he said, construction jobs can pay better than some jobs that require college degrees. 

"We've told everybody you have to go to college or you're just not worth anything," Hershberger said. "We've got this horrendous shortage of tradespeople." 

Most construction occupations in the state pay more than a median Idahoan’s salary, according to the association. 

There’s also a lot of underemployed people who could benefit, said Kaycee Cron, workforce development and training coordinator at the Idaho Associated General Contractors. 

For people who are perhaps working in fast food, there’s not a chance to grow, Cron said. 

The state, however, continues to grow, she said. 

“The infrastructure funding is amazing in Idaho right now,” Cron said. “The money is there. We just need humans.” 

This article was originally published by the Idaho Press. Read more at IdahoPress.com 

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