In recent years, the construction industry has faced significant shifts, particularly with the onshoring of manufacturing facilities like semiconductor plants. This transition, highlighted by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s (TSMC) $40 billion facility in Arizona’s Silicon Desert, has exposed a critical issue: a daunting labor shortage that threatens to stall these monumental projects.

For construction companies, understanding the complexities and evolving requirements of building such sophisticated facilities is crucial to navigating this hiring landscape effectively.

The Growing Demand in Construction Labor

The resurgence of manufacturing in the United States, particularly in states like Arizona, Ohio, New York, and Texas, has led to a centralized boom in construction activity. This boom is not just in volume but in the complexity of the projects being undertaken. Facilities for giants such as General Motors, Stellantis, Ford, and Intel require advanced construction techniques that differ significantly from traditional projects.

Specialized Construction Needs Are Needed More Than Ever

Projects like TSMC’s semiconductor plant call for “hyper clean spaces,” which are crucial for protecting the manufacturing processes. The construction of such spaces involves sophisticated electrical work and control of environmental factors like air pressure and particulates. Moreover, these facilities often need to be resistant to vibrations and other environmental disruptions, adding another layer of complexity for contractors.

Union and Labor Requirements Can Be Sticky

Adding to the challenge is the requirement for union labor, especially on projects for North America’s largest car manufacturers. These requirements limit the pool of eligible workers, making it even harder to staff these expansive projects efficiently. For example, Ford’s $3.5 billion investment in an EV battery plant in Michigan is part of a broader $50 billion initiative that similarly demands a specialized, and often unionized, construction workforce.

Meeting the Labor Demand As It Rises

To meet the labor demands of these complex projects, construction companies need to tailor their strategies. Here are several approaches that can help:

  1. Specialized Recruitment Efforts

Companies must develop targeted strategies to attract workers skilled in the specific needs of modern manufacturing construction, such as clean room construction and precision electrical work.

  1. Build Partnerships with Unions

Building relationships with unions can provide a steady pipeline of qualified labor, essential for projects with specific union requirements. Companies should focus on nurturing these partnerships to reduce the time and complexity of hiring for unionized roles.

  1. Enhanced Training Programs for Upskilling

Offering training programs that equip workers with the necessary skills for high-tech construction projects can help fill the labor gap. These programs should focus on the specific skills needed for current and upcoming projects.

  1. Competitive Compensation Packages

Attracting the necessary talent often requires competitive compensation packages, particularly when the demand for specialized skills increases. Companies must ensure that the pay rates are attractive and commensurate with the skills and experience required.

  1. Outreach and Education

There is a need for ongoing education about the opportunities available in this new era of construction. Outreach programs that highlight the benefits and potentials of working in high-tech facility construction can attract younger workers and those looking to switch industries.


As the construction industry continues to evolve with the onshoring of manufacturing, recruiters are on the front lines of meeting the labor demands of this shift. By understanding the specific needs of these projects and adapting recruitment strategies accordingly, they can overcome the challenges presented by the labor shortage.

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