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Working to Create a Strong, Skilled Workforce

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Market Conditions

Working to Create a Strong, Skilled Workforce

Remodeling is booming, but labor shortages continue to challenge the industry


By Alicia Huey July 17, 2023
nahb skilled labor
More than 30 children were educated on careers in construction at the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders recent event with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama. | Photo: courtesy NAHB
This article first appeared in the July/Aug 2023 issue of Pro Remodeler.

Will the Federal Reserve achieve a soft landing for the economy? I don’t know, but I do know this: Pushing mortgage interest rates to 10-year highs has been great for the remodeling industry.

With mortgage rates so high and housing affordability so low, many families elected to invest in their home rather than buy.

The biggest thing I hear from our remodelers is not that it’s trouble getting business, it’s that finding skilled trades is increasingly difficult.

alicia huey nahb chairmans
Alicia Huey

What Remodelers Say

I had the opportunity to speak with a number of NAHB Remodelers during NAHB’s recent spring leadership meetings in D.C. For most, business now is going strong. A good example is Mike Pressgrove, president of PDQ Construction in Topeka, Kansas. Mike says he’s running 10 crews and those crews are scheduled through December.

The biggest thing I hear from our remodelers is not that it’s trouble getting business, it’s that finding skilled trades is increasingly difficult.

The most recent labor force statistics from the 2021 American Community Survey, highlight the depth of the challenge for the construction industry.

Workers younger than 25 comprised 13.6% of the U.S. labor force, but their share in the construction industry was just 10% in 2021. Meanwhile, the share of construction workers aged 55 and older increased from about 19% in 2015 to more than 22% in 2021.

 

Addressing the Workforce Issue

There is no one solution to the workforce challenge. We need to encourage more young people to look at our industry, and we need to provide the training they need to succeed. A few examples include: 

  • NAHB’s workforce development partner, the Home Builders Institute, is ramping up its instructional capacity through its Job Corps Centers, its growing network of BuildStrong Academies, and training programs at military bases.
  • The National Housing Endowment, NAHB’s philanthropic arm, is investing in construction education in our high schools and universities and funding the Housing Education Leadership Program, which has helped expand construction management training at more than 44 colleges and universities.
  • A partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America gives the more than 4 million young people enrolled in those clubs an opportunity to learn about careers in residential construction.
  • NAHB is working with local home builder associations to create more student chapters.

 

Mike has been actively promoting Build My Future events, uniting companies and high school students, to give young folks an opportunity for hands-on learning. At the Topeka event, they had representatives of 45 construction companies connecting with more than 540 high students.

Mike noted that the students perked up when they learned about the wage rates of the trades, and appreciate this career path doesn’t demand four years of college education and thousands of dollars.

Skilled construction workers are hard to find, but NAHB is committed to preparing the next generation, and we’ll be working to connect NAHB Remodelers to young people eager to prove themselves in this exciting industry.

 


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