The millennial demographic continues to infiltrate itself into the workforce; however, barely any of them have gone into construction. That is not a surprising fact, given that 76 percent of builders indicated cost and availability of labor as their major problem in 2015, according to a recent poll conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The poll concludes that the anticipated construction labor shortage can cripple the improving housing market.
Robert Dietz, chief economist at the NAHB, states that “there are currently 184,000 open construction sector jobs. The rate of unfilled sector jobs has been on the rise and now stands at rates near cycle highs and at levels comparable to the housing boom period. The rising rate of unfilled jobs has slowed the construction sector’s net job growth.”
Rusty Morgan, president and CEO of Structura, believes there are several factors that have contributed to the decline in laborers. For one, many construction workers moved to the energy sector during the boom—and two, there’s no escaping that today’s youth prefer sitting behind a computer than doing something that requires more of physical effort.
“[Younger generations] want higher paying salaried positions with benefits,” says Morgan. “As higher education tends to be the avenue for such positions, today’s construction workforce is leaning more and more toward the Latino American community. The mindset of today’s youth in not wanting to pursue skilled labor is indicative of the fact that we have not focused enough time as an industry in creating an enticing work environment for the next generation of construction workers.”
While the median age for construction workers is still 42, job openings in construction experienced a decline in August. The budding new interest may derive from the increase in wages, reporting a 5 percent interval rise in 2014 and 2015.
Is increasing wages the only way to attract the millennial workforce to construction Morgan believes “we can focus our resources to make the skilled labor force look attractive for the next generation. For too long the American thought has been, ‘Educate yourself, so you don’t have to work in the sun and with your hands.’ Similar to the way college education was perceived as ‘the answer’ two generations ago, we must find a way to change the mindset of the labor force. We must bring back the trade classes in high schools, recruit more high school kids, create more opportunity in apprenticeship programs, and make it a priority to give our workers better pay, benefits, and safer job sites.”
If it is true that younger generations are in search of benefits and higher wages, rejuvenating the home building sector and adapting it to the demands of 21st century workers can prove to be a game changer.
Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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