MARY MEAUX — Workers in demand locally for high-paying construction jobs

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Work on the new Nederland High School sheds light on a growing career field — construction.

While construction is one of the nation’s fastest growing job markets in the nation, it is also a field in need of workers.

Brian Turmail, the national spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America, said members of the association are having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to hire to keep pace with the demand.

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Turmail, along with Thomas Neild, president of H.B. Neild & Sons; and Alysha Hill of Workforce Solutions of Southeast Texas, led media on a tour of the new high school site Wednesday.

By the numbers

The Beaumont-Port Arthur metro area added 2,100 new construction jobs between March 2022 and March 2023, which is a 12 percent increase.

Turmail said the area added more construction jobs than all but 18 of the 358 metro areas the association tracks.

The need and a solution

Turmail said that nationwide schools have pulled back investments in what was once a robust network called vocational education and is now dubbed career and technical education.

This, he said, sent a signal to students and families that those careers may not be as important for loved ones to follow.

“And that’s a real shame because construction jobs pay an average nationwide over $34 an hour, well above the average for non-farm jobs,” Turmail said. “So the bottom line is demand is really high all over the county.”

The association has launched a digital advertising campaign called Construction is Essential as a way to recruit new workers, and there’s a program to retain the new workers called Culture of Care.

Job seekers can take note of an upcoming Spring Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 11 at the Bob Bowers Civic Center, 3401 Cultural Center Drive in Port Arthur.

Alysha Hill said the job fair is a partnership between Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas, Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, Lamar State College Port Arthur, Valero Port Arthur refinery and Whataburger.

Workforce offers a number of programs to help job seekers and employers, she said. To contact Workforce, call 800-735-2988 or 877-834-5627.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at