Organizations Seek to End Skilled Labor Shortage

November 6th, 2018 by Drew Vass, Executive Editor

As a skilled labor shortage continues to plague most housing-related industries, several organizations have made it their priorities in 2018 to help end the dilemma. In the past few months, WorkingNation, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) and The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) all have stepped in with initiatives to help close labor gaps for their members. Most recently they’re joined by the Home Builders Institute (HBI), which announced its own initiative in October, following President Trump’s creation of the National Council for the American Worker. Launched in July, the National Council for the American Worker’s goal is, “to develop a national strategy to train and retain workers needed in many high-demand industries,” which includes taking input from a variety of sources hailing from the private, public, education, labor and non-profit sectors. Senior administration officials are tasked with improving employment opportunities for all Americans.

“HBI, in partnership with NAHB, is supporting a pledge to train 50,000 workers over five years to prepare students’ building industry careers and meet the demand for skilled labor,” says HBI president and CEO John Courson. “We prepare our students so that their last day of training is like their first day on the job.”

To date, HBI’s efforts appear to be helping, as, according to Courson, so far the placement rate among students is more than 85 percent. Recent indications are, however, that those results might be a drop in the bucket. As late as September, data produced by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America and Autodesk proved that severity. AGC’s 2018 Workforce Survey questioned more than 2,500 respondents, finding that 80 percent of firms in the U.S. persist in having trouble finding suitable workers. As a result, AGC officials suggest the way to end a shortage includes keying in on younger generations.

Approaching the end of August, WorkingNation, a national non-profit campaign, released a five-minute documentary called “Building a Strong Foundation: SkillsUSA Prepares the American Workforce.” The documentary focuses on how SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization, is working through its TeamWorks competition, to help ensure that the U.S. has a skilled workforce. The program aims to educate students about alternative job options.

“Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “The best way to encourage continued economic growth, make it easier to rebuild aging infrastructure and place more young adults into high-paying careers is to address construction workforce shortages.”

And according to NAHB, that focus should include more women. In late September, the association honored Professional Women in Building Week (PWB) by releasing new information, showing that women make up only nine percent of the construction workforce, despite the fact that they make up a total of 47 percent of the working population. As a result, NAHB is calling for more female workers to help end the labor shortage.

“Right now more than ever is the time for our industry to not only increase our recruitment efforts, but to also change the way we talk about careers in home building to show women this industry has so much to offer them,” says Judy Dinelle, chair of NAHB’s PWB council.

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