Construction’s late recovery in Nevada heightens shortage of skilled workers as Tesla looms

Updated Oct 14, 2014
A rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory planned to be built near Reno.A rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory planned to be built near Reno.

After successfully wooing electric car maker Tesla to build its massive gigafactory through $1.25 billion in tax incentives, the state of Nevada is looking forward to an impact of $100 billion over the next 20 years.

And the construction industry in the Reno area is looking forward to an infusion of 3,000 jobs to build the $5 billion battery factory.

Unfortunately, Nevada’s construction recovery, including Tesla’s plans, has come a bit late for many contractors in the northern part of the state, according to a report from the Nevada Appeal.

The paper reports that the industry only began recovering from the economic downturn in the last 18 months. But the recovery came so late that many skilled workers left northern Nevada for California and Las Vegas where work returned earlier.

Contractors there worry that they won’t be able to lure those workers back to the area over concerns that the recovery won’t prove stable.

Meanwhile, contractors not involved in building Tesla’s gigafactory have even more reason to worry since that project will likely make a small pool of workers to choose from, even smaller.

Despite that, Paul McKenzie, executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada tells the paper that the unions in the state are “convinced that the recovery is sustainable” even after the Tesla project. With that in mind, the unions have placed a new emphasis on apprenticeships.

You can read the full report from the Appeal by clicking here.