With South Dakota high school seniors poised to pick up their diplomas this weekend, many companies are hoping the new graduates will consider careers in construction.
A Sioux Falls hotel banquet hall has turned into a hardhat area where those in the construction industry are hosting a job fair trying to build up their workforce.
"For the most part, if a person wanted a job today, we could get them a job," Aaron Christensen of Electrical Workers Local Union 426 said.
Projects throughout South Dakota are ramping up and showing no signs of slowing down.
"I think it started with the events center and that huge project and now, for some reason, all schools in the Sioux Falls area and the surrounding cities, Brookings, Watertown, Yankton and some of the smaller towns are adding onto their schools," Doug Severson of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers of South Dakota said.
The worker shortage has affected all sectors of construction: from carpenters to electricians to brick layers to heavy equipment operators. Companies are seeking high school graduates as well as experienced workers eager to learn on-the-job.
"We're looking for people willing to work and we will make them qualified electricians through our apprenticeship program," Christensen said.
Competition from the oil boom in North Dakota is draining the worker pool in South Dakota.
"The western North Dakota, we have about 50 apprentices, they have 300 and some apprentices, so it's huge up there, they are significantly higher paid," Christensen said.
But local companies are touting competitive starting wages of their own to entice job hunters looking to lay the groundwork on their construction careers.
"When there's work, you need help," Severson said.
The job fair resumes Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at ClubHouse Hotel & Suites on South Louise.
For information about the job fair, click here.