Home Builders Skilled Trades Shortage Has Cost

10:24 Jul 2018
Houston home builders labor shortage

Parents Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be; Skilled Trade Contractors

There has been much published about restricting immigration and the shrinking skilled trade labor base that the housing industry is currently experiencing. This is an ongoing problem that will likely only get worse as time goes by. There are very real cost associated with the continued housing skilled labor shortage that the nation is facing.

This is a discussion of the ongoing issues that will continue to perpetuate this problem and some possible alternatives that could enrich younger adults in their quest for a meaningful career. In addition we will examine the labor shortage consequences associated with current political climate that is seriously restricting the US long history of immigration that are contributing to this problem.

How Did We Get Here

The national housing industry set record starts in 2005 & 2006 & 2007 with 2.2 million / 1.9 million / 1.7 million respectfully. This all began to change as the national economy began a long journey into a deep recession caused in principle by the financial markets subprime loan defaults. The housing market would plunge from 2008 through 2011 to less than 600,000 annual housing starts. The market would remain stagnate for 4 years sending the majority of skilled trades into early retirement or other professions.

In Houston, one of the leading national cities for housing starts, would find itself in great need of skilled trades as it began a recovery much sooner than the rest of the nation in 2012. Houston had become dependent on migrate workers from Mexico supplying many of the skilled trades such as concrete finishers, brick masons and framers. Many of these skilled trades did not return to their profession when the housing industry began to reemerge in 2012.

What are The Statistics With Skilled Labor

Due to the physical demands of home building, when the housing industry began its recover in 2012 many of the skilled trades had found work in other industries such as the oil industry, manufacturing and less skilled manual labor. It is estimated that the housing industry lost 1.5 million workers during the subprime financial recession. It is estimated that only 600,000 workers returned to the industry according to the NAHB.

According to the National Electrical Contractors Association, 7,000 electricians are hired each year while 10,000 electricians retire. There is clear pattern developing nationally that the skilled labor trades are aging. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics nearly 200,000 construction industry jobs are unfilled across the country during the last 3 years of the housing industry recovery.

Younger Adults are Not Attracted to Skilled Labor

The younger adults that are entering the job market have shown little interest in the physical demands of skilled labor. Their professional interest have been focused on the technological sectors such as software programming and internet marketing opportunities. These are jobs that are not physically demanding or do not require an advance degree. These alternative occupations also offer better pay and a longer likelihood of a longer career.

Houston home builders labor shortage

Another issue that has changed in skill labor numbers are the social changes in family friendly careers. Many skilled trades attracted multiple generations of trades within the family. It was not uncommon to witness 4 to 6 generations of plumbers or carpenters as younger adults would follow in the family chosen craft as a career. This long tradition has changed as the family dynamic has continued to evolve with both parents more often holding down jobs instead of staying at home.

Financial Consequences of Skilled Labor Shortages

There are several economic consequences that have developed as a result of these shortages. The first of these is the rising cost of skilled labor. As low mortgage interest rates have fueled the robust housing recovery, it has placed pressure on the need for the insufficient levels of new housing inventory to meet current demands in Houston. Houston home builders have responded to the skilled labor shortage by paying more for their services. This has resulted in home builders raising new home prices at a greater late then normal.

These labor shortages are also contributing short falls in home inventories caused from the limitation of skilled labor and damages resulting from Hurricane Harvey in Houston. The housing shortages that began during the recession have not been adequately supplied to meet the ongoing growth demands in Houston. The result of the skilled labor shortage has caused home builders to struggle with making up the shortage in the housing supply. This has also contributed to rising prices of new homes.

Future Solutions for Skilled Trades Shortage

So what can be done to attract younger workers to the ranks of the skilled trades industry? It must begin with removing the possible stigmas associated with the skilled trades industry. This career is not just an option for recently released felons from prison. The negative perception is collectively causing younger people to look at other alternatives.

Learning a trade is one of the fastest methods for someone to own their own business in a relatively short period of time. Recent vocational school surveys have found that more than 65% of younger adults would like to own their own business. This is a relevant fact that trade associations and vocational schools do not promote as well as they should. Vocational schools have fallen out of favor with younger people after being told by their parents that they should pursue a college degree to get a head.

Parents and guidance counselors need to advocate the viability and creditability of a skilled trades apprenticeship. College is not for everyone and the only thing certain about the result of higher education these days is the likelihood of a huge debt by the time someone graduates. Educational institutions should place greater emphasis of the value that skilled trades provides to a community. This could change the general perception of how people view skilled trades in the future.

Local business leaders need to create working alliances with the Texas Work Force Commission to acclimate a potential young candidate to a company’s work ethic culture and develop a natural interest in the business. Allowing younger people a chance to get exposed to the skilled trades industry allows the candidate to get an up close appreciation for the industry. With the higher wages brought on by the last 10 years of skilled labor shortages, this occupation could be much more enticing to young adults in the future.

How Does Immigration Affect this Discussion

The current political climate does not hold well for allowing many manual labor jobs to be absorbed by migrate workers. America has been developed on allowing migrate workers find refuge and create a quality living accepting job opportunities that many natural born US citizens would not accept. By closing the boarders and deporting migrate workers because of fear or an outdated political policy is not the answer for making us feel safer in modern times. Allowing migrate workers an opportunity to find meaningful employment and contribute to our communities is much more valuable than spending tax payers money to collect and deport them.

Comments are closed.