Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Boomer Retirements a Huge Concern for Modular Home Factories

The shortage of skilled labor isn’t just affecting the site built side of new home construction. Modular home factories up and down the East Coast of the US are seeing older workers (Boomers) retiring in increasing numbers.

Many factories are enticing older production line employees to stay past their 65th birthday by giving them increased wages, more personal and vacation days and as much overtime as they want.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the construction industry, which crested $338 billion in value in 2016, will grow by 13% in the decade between 2014 and 2024. This will create 180,100 new jobs. Pair this with the workforce exodus of retiring baby boomers, and we could be looking at a construction labor shortage in the range of half-a-million jobs.

Skilled trade positions are plentiful. Less plentiful are the men and women with the qualifications to fill them.

Since most modular factories produce custom homes especially in the Eastern US and no two factories are alike, creating a generalized training program for new hires is almost impossible. Training in a modular home factory is “On the Job” (OJT).

The real problem will show its ugly head in 3-7 years when all those Boomers that have stayed past their 66th birthday no longer want to work or simply can’t.

Visiting IBS this year will open your eyes to the vast amount of products and companies touting automation for the off-site and modular home industries. What isn’t found at IBS are automation solutions for modular factories that primarily build custom homes. Automation can help some of the steps on the production but not many.

Until that time when new home buyers only want what tract builders and apartment developers provide, the modular housing industry will continue to slug it out with other industries for those elusive Millennial skilled laborers.

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