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DEWALT Survey Finds Training Next Generation is Critical Need

A new survey released today from DEWALT found that more than half of U.S. contractors, 55 percent, feel a lack of skilled workers is a barrier to growing their current business. That number rises to 69 percent among businesses with $10 million plus annual revenue and 64 percent among those with 20 years or more of experience. Looking to the future, 48 percent believe training the next generation of trades professionals is one of the most critical needs for the success of the construction industry in 2023.

Top challenges

Keeping up with inflation, finding skilled workers/being understaffed and working long hours are the top three most significant challenges that U.S. contractors surveyed are currently facing. When it comes to the effects those challenges are having on the industry, an overwhelming majority of contractors, 93 percent, feel the lack of skilled workers has had at least a minor impact on their existing work.

Half of those contractors who have had their work impacted by the labor shortage cite the primary causes for the gap as a lack of awareness around career paths in construction, followed by outside influences, like parents, media, etc., that guide younger people away from pursuing a career in the industry, 47 percent said, as well as an underestimation of how much money can be made in the industry, 41 percent answered.

Mentorship matters

A great deal of importance is placed on mentorship programs regardless of contractor level, tenure, or type, with 67 percent of all contractors labeling these programs as extremely important with an additional 24 percent identifying these programs as moderately important. A larger majority of contractors with extensive experience of over 20 years or high business revenue, $10 million or more, find these programs to be extremely important, 71 percent and 78 percent respectively, in providing the latest training to help young professionals prepare for onsite work. In addition, more than half of contractors surveyed say mentorship increases excitement about construction as a career path.

Health and wellbeing

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors have experienced numerous changes in the industry. According to the survey, the number one takeaway from the pandemic among contractors is the importance of employee mental health and wellbeing, which 39 percent surveyed said. 

Most contractors, 56 percent, have been working more hours since 2019, with mechanical, 68 percent, plumbing, 66 percent, and electrical, 60 percent, contractors more likely to have seen an increase in labor hours since the pandemic began. Nearly 40 percent of all contractors surveyed say longer hours have made their jobs more difficult.

2023 Forecast

About half of contractors identify training the next generation of workers as one of the most critical industry focus areas in 2023 and beyond. Seasoned contractors are particularly committed to training the next generation of workers, with 63 percent of those in the industry for 20 or more years indicating this is a paramount goal for the future. The second and third most critical elements for growth are contingency planning/risk management and resilient supply chain solutions, according to 37 percent of those surveyed.

Also indicated as an important element of future success is the innovation of tools and equipment. With tool advancements, 55 percent of contractors feel they have increased efficiency, half state they have increased user control, and over a third think it has improved the quality of work.

DEWALT scholarship opportunity

DEWALT has opened the DEWALT Trades Scholarship, which will award students with a $5,000 grant in pursuance of a skilled trade educational program for the 2023-2024 academic year. To learn more about this opportunity and apply by February 8, visit

“The DEWALT Powering the Future Survey sheds further light on the wide-reaching gap in skilled labor and its continued impact on the residential and commercial construction industries. Add to that the overwhelming demand for trades expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic and the [skilled-labor] gap is quickly becoming the most critical need that will dictate the future success of the field,” says Allison Nicolaidis, President, Power Tools Group, Stanley Black & Decker.