Open construction jobs stand at 321,000, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And those unfilled positions are a barrier to new residential construction and housing affordability.
As chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder myself, I know how many of us across the country face delays and rising costs because we can’t find capable building trade professionals. But amid this challenge there is opportunity. Our industry, which has been an economic bright spot for the broader economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, can show young people that residential construction offers well-paying jobs and satisfying careers.
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But to do so, we must change the narrative around the skilled trades. We can begin by talking with teachers, parents, and young people in our communities and educating them on the value of a home building career. They need to understand that construction offers well-paying jobs and rewarding careers that are a viable alternative to a college degree and student debt.
Promoting Construction Jobs During Careers in Construction Month
October is a perfect time to promote construction jobs with Careers in Construction Month, which celebrates the broad range of opportunities available in the trades. NAHB’s Careers in Construction toolkit offers a variety of suggestions and ideas to help reach stakeholders and promote the industry. Online resources at nahb.org/workforce include information for in-person and virtual events, as well as brochures, posters, videos, customizable op-eds, and social media posts that can help promote skilled trade careers in your area. NAHB members even have access to updated state-specific salary data that show how lucrative wages are for 19 of the most popular construction trades.
NAHB’s nonprofit affiliate, the Home Builders Institute (HBI), is doing its part. HBI trains approximately 10,000 students each year through an industry-recognized curriculum at more than 200 sites around the country, including high schools, community colleges, Job Corps centers, and military bases. HBI also has programs that give justice-involved individuals a second chance and a meaningful career.
Our industry, which has been an economic bright spot for the broader economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, can show young people that residential construction offers well-paying jobs and satisfying careers.
The NAHB National Housing Endowment helps develop the next generation through education, job training, and research. Since 2006, the Endowment’s signature Homebuilding Education Leadership Program (HELP) has dedicated nearly $5 million in grant opportunities to support academic programs in residential construction. And NAHB student chapters help, too, offering firsthand exposure to the industry through educational programming and networking opportunities. There are even lesson plans to encourage careers in construction at the middle school level.
NAHB’s Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) and its local affiliates are doing their part to encourage more women to enter the field—and at a younger age. The PWB Council at the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, Iowa, created an activity book for elementary school children to give them a look at home building. Utah PWB’s all-female–built home, The House That SHE Built, inspired a children’s book of the same name, released in September, that educates young readers about construction jobs.
The housing industry is hiring and offers strong earnings potential, but perhaps most importantly, work in the building trades brings a sense of satisfaction from providing the place a family will call “home.”