Where, oh where can a residential contractor turn to find the labor he/she needs to meet the demand in today’s market? According to the Association of General Contractors of America, they might be hard to find because the industry lost a staggering 2.3 million jobs between 2006-2011. In Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states there was a 37% decrease in the workforce by early 2012 when things began to turn around.
We talked with a few builders in Georgia who are experiencing an acute shortage of workers and are trying various and sundry ways of hiring people and getting jobs completed. Kurt Cannon, President of the Board for Georgia Mountain Home Builders Association, has tried Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the Georgia Department of Labor, networking and word of mouth. He is frustrated by his lack of success and feels the source of the problem is running deep in his area. He does not foresee those who left during the housing crash coming back. Many moved to jobs in other industries; many more cannot return due to changes in immigration laws.
Down along the coast, Fred Bricketto, President of the Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah (HBAGS), has faced the same challenges and also sees an age gap problem. Many would-be workers are sons and daughters who are interested in taking over the businesses of their parents someday. However, they have been discouraged by their parents from doing so; and, indeed, they have seen first hand what their parents endured in the crash. They saw construction was not easy; they saw it was volatile and therefore sought jobs in other areas.
Bricketto is concerned that, in today’s world, young men and women without generational experience will never see the potential that exists for these valuable and necessary trades. While there is vast market potential, good salaries and upward mobility in many areas of residential construction—training programs for these skills/educational pathways have practically disappeared from high school, vocational-technical, and community college curricula. Fortunately, numerous schools are now making an effort to bring back these essential programs.
What else can be done? The HBAGS held a job fair for its members and invited everyone they could think of: retired military, vocational-technical students, high school students, etc. They experienced a very good turnout and members were able to make some hires. They are planning another such event in the late summer or early fall of 2018. A trade partner of the HBAGS started a class for interior trim. Bricketto states, “…they were put up and trained for 6-8 weeks then put out on crews and are making money.” The tradesman continues to train, and the newly trained continue to make money and help decrease the labor shortage. That’s an out-of-the-box solution that is showing great success in resolving the problem.
Other such solutions included hiring the less employable.
While one man hires those with conviction records, another hires recovering addicts. Both are seeing success within their companies day to day as they manage hard-working, smart and motivated people.
If you have ideas or suggestions that have worked for you and would be willing to share for the benefit of other contractors who may be facing the same challenges, please send them to email@example.com.