The shortage of skilled labour. It’s a topic that is often in the news and one that is directly affecting the home building industry. But the industry is working to change that.
Michael Montgomery works with the Atlantic Home Building & Renovation Sector Council, an organization that has partnered with government, industry and educators to promote the home building trades to young people looking for careers. Together they have been working on a recruitment- and-retention program they hope will get new workers in a field that will soon lose thousands through retirement. Montgomery says right now 60 per cent of those working in the industry have been there for 25 years or more and are expected to retire in the next 10 years. Five-thousand to 6,000 new employees will be needed in the industry in the next five years, when the industry will be hardest hit with the shortage.
There are several factors behind the forecasted shortage of workers in the home building sector. First, demographics and the coming wave of retirements by baby boom- ers. Secondly, for a couple of generations, parents, educators and policy makers have told young people to forgo trade schools for university. Schools, in response, steered away from programs in traditional trades in favour of more technology-based trades.
Another reason for the forecasted short- age of workers is that those who work in the industry generally retire or transition to other work before reaching traditional retirement age. Montgomery says govern- ment and policymakers are recognizing
the problems not promoting the trades has done, leaving the industry in a situation where it’s becoming difficult to find workers. He says the development of the
recruitment strategy will help reverse the trend, by reaching young people with the message that the industry has “real jobs and real money.”
“It captures the message we are trying to get across to the labour market,” Montgomery says of their motto. “There are very lucrative careers in the industry and plenty of opportunities to learn and grow and perhaps even become an entrepreneur.”
The range of opportunities is endless. There are 37 distinct occupations within the home building industry including those in roofing, framing, drywall, cabinetry, electrical, plumbing, design and architecture. Some of these careers, such as bricklaying, have been harder hit than others, so the push is greater to get workers into those fields. Montgomery says they are trying to reach a larger audience, including women and other groups who traditionally have not been represented in the construction trades.