Wednesday, June 20, 2018

“Go Build” Sites Should Be Popping Up Everywhere

Tried to hire a plumber lately? An electrician? A roofer?

Chances are getting one was a challenge, especially if you are a modular home builder or factory HR person looking for ‘middle skilled’ people for the production line or at the jobsite. The labor crunch is unlikely to ease any time soon.

The average age of ‘middle skilled’ labor is 47 years old. Think about that for a minute. That’s only 3 years shy of joining AARP. 

The unemployment rate has dropped so low that every person that wants a job can find one. The key word is ‘wants’ a job. Our youth is a gold mine for ‘middle skilled’ labor but as we are learning, they really have had little exposure to working with their hands in a 40+ hour job.

It’s clear the offsite construction industry has very little recruiting and training programs available to entice young people to join the ranks. I don’t know any modular factory or builder that is doing anything other than posting ‘help wanted’ ads and signs. OJT is waning because the skilled labor that used to mentor the new people is too busy actually trying to stay ahead of the work at the jobsite.

The labor shortage is simply a supply and demand problem. A good economy brings demand for more goods and services. New home sales are up but most modular factories are booked way into late Summer or early Fall. Offsite builders are struggling to find subcontractors that can do the work needed at the jobsite.

All this adds to the cost of a new home driving retail prices higher and making lead times longer.

Enter “Go Build.” This program developed by some states is targeting young people in high school, the recently disillusioned Millennial that has realized that can’t pay their bills or buy a new car simply by playing games and writing on social media and middle age people that are finding their current job can’t sustain even a minimal lifestyle for their families. 

Go Build offers hope to the construction industry in the states that use it. I couldn’t find a “Go Build” website for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York or any other Mid Atlantic or New England state. 

The two sites below are examples of what can happen when the construction industry in Alabama and Tennessee take a very active marketing approach to recruiting and training “Middle Skilled” for the future of our industry.  

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