Even as the twin blows of a pandemic and a recession have slowed down the construction industry, B & I Contractors in Fort Myers, Florida, isn’t short of work.

It is, however, short of workers.

The company, which specializes in commercial buildings, offers enviable benefits — employee stock ownership, in-house training, paid time off, sick days, a 401(k), health insurance that includes dental and vision and, in some cases, a $1,000 signing bonus.

Yet it regularly lists around 50 jobs to fill, including for plumbers, electricians, welders, computer-aided design experts and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technicians.

“There are not enough of those skilled tradespeople available,” B & I’s president, Gary Griffin, said. “It’s a big concern for us. And it’s going to get worse because of the way these numbers are going.”

Griffin is talking about the steep decline in enrollment at community colleges, which help train many of the people he is looking for, along with a huge share of other workers now in high demand across the country.

The number of students in community colleges in the fall declined by more than half a million, or 10 percent, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Of those currently enrolled, a fifth say they are likely to delay their graduation because of Covid-19, a Strada Education Network and Gallup survey found.

That’s a big problem for employers who need to fill jobs made even more essential by the pandemic, and in fields where there are already shortages. These include health care, cybersecurity, information technology, construction, manufacturing, transportation, law enforcement and utilities.

Read the full article about declining community college enrollment by Jon Marcus at The Hechinger Report.