LANSING, Mich. — The number of homes being built across the state has decreased for the past two years, in part due to a shrinking workforce. With retirements and the aging demographics in the industry, many builders and contractors can’t find enough skilled workers to fill the jobs needed to expand or maintain current production levels.
“In order to sustain and increase growth in the state, our industry must grow its workforce,” said Bob Filka, CEO of the HBA of Michigan. “More emphasis and effort must be put into training and attracting individuals to good paying jobs in the construction sector.” The Home Builders Association of Michigan forecasts that single-family home production in the state may shrink below 17,000 units in 2019 even though economic data would suggest that this number should be 40% higher. “While other factors are impacting this decline, lack of labor is the most significant,” noted Filka.
The Skilled to Build Michigan Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) affiliated with HBAM, is aiming to draw greater attention to the demand for workers in the industry. The foundation is taking a multifaceted approach. In the short term, the foundation is partnering with schools, counselors, and parents to help promote the benefits of a career in skilled trades. “We’re pointing to high wages and no college debt, as one of many reasons why young adults should take a serious look at the opportunities in construction,” said Skilled to Build Michigan’s Executive Director Dawn Crandall.
In the long run, Skilled to Build Michigan Foundation aims to shift the culture and perception of construction-related jobs. Through education and awareness building at different levels (students, parents, teachers), they seek to strengthen career paths for individuals who want to enter the residential construction industry. The foundation also partners with the State of Michigan and numerous construction trade programs, offered through high schools, to provide students with the necessary training and education.
In a recent survey, 56.3% of Michigan residents polled would strongly support public funding for the creation and maintenance of vocational programs that attract and train more students for careers in skilled trades. Results also show 43.3% of adults would definitely want their child to pursue a career in construction or another trade. For more information about Skilled to Build Michigan and their work, go to skilledtobuildmichigan.com.
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