The home building industry continues to move along at a brisk pace. New houses are always needed, and even during the recent recession people were still building. Unfortunately, they were building at much lower rates, which put some small companies out of business. Other skilled workers had to seek other, more stable work because their companies didn’t have enough work to keep them employed full time.
This has resulted in the housing industry losing about half of all of its skilled workers. Now that the recession is over and more people are looking to build houses again, companies are finding themselves overworked. However, the recession is only one part of why the industry is facing labor shortages. Below, we discuss other labor shortage causes.
Skilled Homebuilders are Aging
The average age of a skilled professional in the construction industry in general is around 40. In the home building sub-industry, the average worker is nearly 60. This means many are approaching retirement age, and there aren’t a large number of new workers to take their place. Learning to build a home requires a good amount of training, especially for those who specialize in plumbing and electric. A person has to not only take the time to learn the theory and planning that goes into these trades, but they also have to gain practical experience and skills. It takes time, and unfortunately, there aren’t many people willing to put in the time to fully learn how to build homes.
Trade Programs Are Vanishing
It wasn’t that long ago that students in high school had the option of taking a shop course, but today’s schools rarely offer this class. A number of trade schools have closed, too, due to the recession or from the recent government crackdown on for-profit institutes. Schools no longer have the luxury of budgeting for programs that don’t impact academics, and unfortunately, shop programs suffered right along with music and the arts. Students don’t get the chance to see if they would love woodworking and other trades, so they may never know if construction is something they should even consider as a career.
Those who are interested in construction aren’t gaining the early skills they need to excel in the field. They’re graduating without any practical hands-on experience at all, and that makes it very difficult to secure a job. Even companies that need more people are hesitant to hire young people who have no experience because they know it will take time to train them. Their existing crews are already overworked, so there’s no time left in the day for someone to mentor these new crew members.
Young People Aren’t Interested in Construction
This is partially due to a lack of shop class and partially due to technology and the world today. Younger people aren’t as interested in working in construction. They are more invested in technology and careers in those fields. Even kids who may be interested in construction while they’re young aren’t going into the field because their parents are pressuring them into getting a college education. College is absolutely the right choice for some, but it’s not for everyone.
Those who don’t excel in academics and have no interest in a career that requires a degree shouldn’t be pressured into going to college over attending a trade school, but many are. By the time they graduate (or, unfortunately, drop out) they have no motivation to go back to the classroom, even if it’s in a trade school doing something they like. Instead, they often find an entry-level job and stick with it for years just because they’re burnt-out on education.
Even those who do graduate often either can’t find a job that they like or that they can truly put their degree to use in. They end up feeling just as unfulfilled, and few of them ever think about going into construction at this point because it seems, to them, to be a step backwards. They feel that they spent so long and put so much into their degree that they have to use it.
Encourage Young People to Follow their Passion
The future of the construction industry really relies on encouraging young people to follow their passion. Without skilled workers in the homebuilding industry, it’s going to take longer and be more expensive for homeowners to build their dream houses. By encouraging young people who love building and construction to follow their passion, however, will attract young talent and help keep the industry afloat.