February 9, 2016

Recovering housing market requires skilled workers

As the economy recovers, home builders look for skilled workers.

Over the last five years when the home building industry reduced construction, many people left plumbing, carpentry, and other trades required for the home building industry. Andy Inman with T.Wall Properties in Madison says, as a result, there’s a definite need for a skilled workforce in those trades.

“Our members are having a hard time finding those qualified, skilled people to hire. The other side to that is, in terms of job creation, it’s a huge opportunity nationally to create jobs and fill that need for our members.” Inman says, “As we start building homes, we have to hire more people; as we hire more people, we need more young people getting into the trades to fill those positions.”

Inman says for those who are driven and enjoy building things, this is a great path to business ownership. He says many builder members started in the trades, worked hard, and eventually became business owners.

Wisconsin Builders Association Executive Director Jerry Deschane says his industry does a variety of things to help improve skilled labor in the workforce. He cites a couple of examples. In one instance, a home builder took over one high school’s building trades program.

“They took over in the sense that they management for them because they know that the school’s resources are limited, but that keeps a supply of young people exposed to the construction industry.” Deschane gives another example of increasing the number of skilled workers, “Down in Janesville there’s a very successful Habitat for Humanity program run by the Builders Association. Students build a house, the builders oversee the construction, and then they sell it off as a Habitat project for affordable housing.”

Deschane says his members are looking for people who enjoy being creative and working with their hands. A formal education is always a good idea, he says, but a new hire can often start with just a good work ethic as a laborer. He says the home building industry has “good-paying careers and you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in philosophy to do it.”

April is New Homes Month — highlighting the economic impact and to recognize the importance a home can have to a family.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 2:05

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