The Associated General Contractors of America, a construction industry group, has put its nose to the ground in search of skilled workers, and the trail has led it to BirdDog, a 14-year-old Greater Des Moines recruitment firm.


BirdDog has signed an agreement with the contractors group that will allow it to find skilled workers for the organization's 30,000 member firms.


Ann Torry, marketing director for BirdDog, said that after years of warnings that a labor shortage was looming, contractors have realized the shortage has arrived.


"We've been talking about this for years, and now we're hearing back on surveys, 'Now that it's here, what do we do?'" Torry said.


FMI Corp., a construction industry research firm, surveyed construction firms last year and 57 percent of respondents were facing a shortage of workers.


The reason? The Great Recession prompted an exodus from the construction trades and the boomer generation of skilled workers are retiring.


Torry said there is high demand for a range of skilled workers, including mechanical system specialists, engineers, electricians and welders.


Bird Dog uses proprietary software to recruit and track job applicants. In addition, it helps contractors make certain they meeting federal hiring guidelines, such as affirmative action requirements.


Associated General Contractors CEO Stephen Sandherr said: "This new partnership should make it easier to connect firms looking to hire with qualified applicants from across the country."