Hurricanes Still Impacting Skilled Labor Shortage

Oct. 10, 2017

The impact of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is reaching far and wide—farther than most people may think. The affect of the recent storms in the Gulf Coast, Florida and Caribbean are well documented, but it is areas such as the Pacific Northwest that will also see a blow to construction, among other industries.

“We’re still somewhat waiting to see how much we should assume that there’s going to be some potential cost increases and potential supply issues from that region,” said Corey Barton, president of CBH Homes, in the Idaho Press. CBH Homes bills itself as the state’s No.1 home builder. Idaho is also one of the countless locations faced with a subcontractor and skilled labor shortage.

A community college in Texas is looking to help assuage this problem with a new program. Lone Star College North Harris in Houston will unveil its new Construction and Skilled Trades Technology Center later this month. Instructor Randy Williams told NPR that students are in demand even before finishing courses. There are about 800 students in the construction trades program.

“This is going to be the biggest demand probably ever in this area for the housing trade,” said Charles Mason Jr., president of Beaumont, Texas-based Mason Construction, in a Washington Post article. “And there’s a severe shortage of qualified workers,” he added.

Missouri is facing the same dilemma—a supply and demand issue with job openings and not enough skilled workers to fill them. Associated General Contractors of Missouri President Len Toenjes spoke to a vocational high school outside St. Louis urging parents and students to think about a career in construction. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger was also at the event. “Without trained construction workers, this [county construction] boom might just stall,” he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Many of the skilled workers left the industry following the burst of the housing bubble 10 years ago, and they never returned. “Government figures show that about 900,000 construction workers left the field in the ten years following the high point of the building boom in 2006,” said CNN Money. “That’s roughly 22% of the construction work force.”

– Michael Miller, editorial associate

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