New Industry Coalition to Address Workforce Capacity Challenges

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Who Will Do The Work?

The Distribution Contractors Association (DCA) is forming a multi-industry coalition to identify and evaluate problems relating to the energy construction sector, where volatility and change is expected to strain the financial resources, leadership and personnel involved in the utility construction industry.

The project will be led by Continuum Advisory Group, a management consulting firm that works with stakeholders in the construction and energy sectors. Continuum predicts that the oil and gas industry will continue to invest vast resources into new and replacement pipeline infrastructure, and ensuring a robust and qualified workforce is a top priority.

Continuum anticipates that pipeline replacement programs, legislation and regulation at the federal and state level, low oil prices, growth in the housing market, impacts of hydraulic fracturing and challenges in pipeline capacity are leading gas utilities to continue implementing aggressive replacement programs leading to significant capital construction spending growth.

“We expect operators will invest up to $65 billion into gas distribution and pipeline infrastructure by 2020 and up to $80 billion in 2028,” said Mark Bridgers, principal at Continuum. “This tremendous workload is very promising for the industry and presents challenges in ensuring enough qualified field, supervisory and management staff to do the work.”

DCA is launching this effort, “Who Will Do The Work?” at a time when even Congress is recognizing workforce challenges in the energy and manufacturing sectors.

“Legislation in both the House and Senate includes language that authorizes federal assistance to schools, community colleges, non-profits, labor and apprenticeship programs and others,” said Rob Darden, DCA executive vice president. “To their credit, lawmakers are giving special consideration for assistance to employers looking to bring displaced and unemployed workers back into the energy and manufacturing workforce.”

The initial phase of the new industry effort is now underway. DCA and other industry partners are currently identifying additional stakeholders that may be interested in participating. The group is also evaluating “hot spots” across the country where labor markets are particularly challenging as well as the types of labor needed. Once a wide-ranging coalition is established, the group will begin to address specific workforce challenges facing the industry over the next 10 years.

“The American energy renaissance and the many players working in it have served as the key to America’s economic recovery since the downturn in 2008,” Darden said. “The industry should be doing everything possible to make sure enough of the right people are there to get the job done.”

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