Now that a huge number of millennials are buying homes, the US is experiencing housing shortages in many parts of the country. Part of the reason there are more home seekers than available homes is the skilled labor shortage. The skilled labor shortage doesn’t just impact home buyers and homeowners seeking needed remodeling for their current homes, it has an enormous impact on interior designers, builders, and remodelers. Due to an inability to find professionals in the skilled trades, many building and remodeling companies feel their growth has been slowed. Some companies could take on more projects, and serve clients faster, if they had plentiful skilled trades to employ. Many companies have to pick and choose which jobs will be the most profitable, leaving homeowners with smaller projects at a disadvantage.
Times Have Changed: A Generation Disinterested?
As contractors and business owners retire from the industry, there is often a lack of interest from the next generation to take over the family business. Younger generations were often brought up being told that a college degree was the only way to a successful career path. They often majored in industries that are increasingly less relevant or lucrative than the trades or oversaturated with qualified workers and not enough available positions.
More and more, college graduates go through multiple career changes and relocations in search of an elusive sense of stability. With student loan debt crushing many millennials’ finances and optimism, career changes and frequent moves make it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some people from the younger generations eventually find their way to the trades through a circuitous path. While it is wonderful how college graduates are returning to college, vocational school, or becoming apprentices in the skilled trades, a more direct path would lead to faster success, financial security, and both professional and personal growth. Making young people aware of the benefits of a career in the trades is a big part of solving the labor shortage.
Initiatives Working to Strengthen the Skilled Trades
Here are some of the initiatives in the industry supporting the development of a strong workforce in the trades to fill the approximately 750,000 positions that will be vacant in the next 6 years.
- The National Association of Remodelers (NARI) has an education and workforce development initiative. NARI “supports increased training opportunities that will lead to greater access to skilled labor, without discrimination based on labor affiliation,” and “supports efforts to integrate Career and Technical Education back into High School curriculums across the country.”
NARI has also partnered at the highest level, with SkillsUSA, a national non-profit organization serving teachers, high school, and college students preparing for careers in the trades. SkillsUSA provides quality educational experiences in leadership, teamwork, citizenship, and character development. They provide state and national construction competitions requiring nearly every skill that can translate into a rewarding profession in the skilled trades
- NKBA’s Next Up initiative seeks to bring education of the trades as a career option into middle and high schools as a response to shortages in the industry. Next Up endeavors to “recruit and empower a well-prepared workforce that will contribute to the future prosperity and vibrancy of the kitchen and bath industry.”
- We are Generation T is another initiative with a powerful message on strengthening the skilled trades. Their goals include:
1. Rallying a national audience to help promote or join the trades.
2. Connecting people to apprenticeships, training, and trade-related programs in community colleges.
3. Bringing shop classes back to target cities.
The ADB Family Supports the Skilled Trades
ADB is fortunate to have one of our own family members who has stepped up to learn the industry and work in the family business. We are incredibly proud of our Production Assistant Manager (PAM), and the daughter of ADB’s President, Dale Contant, Sydney Nunes, CRPM (Certified Remodeling Project Manager). Sydney spent a decade in the field before coming into the office as the PAM. She apprenticed for 5 years before becoming a project manager. Sydney was also named a “40 under 40” by Professional Remodeler when she was just 26. She has put her support of the skilled trades into practice, with a focus on lifting up the next generation of women in construction, by participating in Mentoring a girl in construction (MAGIC) camp, an organization introducing middle school and high school girls to careers in construction.