Lack of Skilled Workers May Hinder New Housing Recovery

The new-home sector is showing signs of picking up, and homebuilders say they plan to do a lot more hiring of skilled laborers in the next year. But they’re increasingly concerned that they won’t be able to find enough skilled laborers to meet the rising demand for new construction projects, according to a study released by the National Association of Home Builders.

Sixty-two percent of home builders say they are concerned they won’t be able to find skilled laborers for their projects during the next year.

“As we’ve gone through the last three or four years, the skilled labor has left the business because of the lack of jobs,” says John Courson, president and CEO of the Home Builders Institute. “Also pre-bubble, builders were more willing, able, and inclined to bring in unskilled labor and do on-the-job training.”

In particular, Courson says the industry faces shortages in skilled bricklayers and masons; painters; finished and rough carpenters; and framing crews. Also, Courson notes that there is an increased demand for workers who are trained in green building.

“As this bubble comes down we’ve found more demand for green building,” Courson told HousingWire. “I think a lot of the laborers that were out there in the past didn’t really have the training in green construction.”

Training programs are assuring homebuilders that they’ll be ready to meet the demands. Training program officials say that their numbers are down because the building industry hasn’t been hiring in recent years, but once that turns around, so will their numbers.

“We have an awful lot of people that would love to get these jobs,” says Steve Martini, a training director for the International Masonry Institute. “If these homebuilders ever start hiring, they’ll get a lot of very skilled people knocking on their doors.”

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