Industrial contract labor demand ramps up

The expected increase in demand for contract workers on industrial construction projects has begun picking up, but not quite as much as previously projected, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance Inc.’s Semi-Annual Contract Labor Forecast.

More than 25,000 contract laborers are needed for March for maintenance and small projects, major projects and turnarounds and plant shutdowns, according to the survey. The demand is expected to peak in September at more than 28,000 workers.

The forecast is lower than the demand the alliance expected in its last forecast, released in July.

A few project cancellations, a plant shutdown and some project timelines being extended lowered the peak demand from the 30,000-plus workers expected then.

“Pipe fitters have taken the number one spot because more project field work is beginning,” said Connie Fabre, the alliance’s executive director. “Engineers, process technicians and laborers are also in high demand, as are nondestructive testing technicians.”

The 18-month outlook, released twice each year, is used to help schools and industry recruit skilled workers. The survey of industrial plants shows the top industrial craftspeople in demand now are pipefitters, welders, instrument and electrical technicians, millwrights and scaffold builders.

The Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance is a trade association whose members are made up of 57 petrochemical, energy, paper, pharmaceutical, storage terminal and other industrial facilities in eight parishes around Baton Rouge.