Spaces for Life

The ReTouch Home Improvement blog



Spaces for Life: Help Wanted! The shortage of skilled workers and why that matters to you.

By Lance McCarthy

I have talked with quite a few contractors and subcontractors recently, and I ask them all one question: “What is the biggest problem you have right now?”

I get the same answer every time: “I can’t find enough skilled workers.”

I would just pass this off as idle talk, like hearing farmers complain about the weather, or teachers complaining about the administration. Unfortunately, there are some reasons why this complaint might just be true.

Here are a sampling of quick stats:

  • The construction industry lost 2.6 million jobs in the recession, and only 500,000 of those have been re-filled
  • Spending in construction in June hit pre-recession levels of growth, and continues to rise
  • 74% of remodeling contractors polled recently said they expected “significant growth” in business in the coming months.  (Compare that to the same poll in ‘08 that had only 24% of contractors expecting growth).
  • This is my favorite–The average age of an electrician in this country is 59.  (That means a skilled work force that is very close to retiring).

So, why does this matter?

Here are three reasons it matters:

  • You will have to wait longer to get work done
  • The work will take longer to complete
  • The work will cost more

What does this mean?

Here are some suggestions I have (or requests for your help):

  • If you are putting work off because it is expensive, you will likely find that price continuing to rise in the coming months and years.
  • When you find workers that you like, build a strong relationship with them.  (They are human, so when they are swamped, they will help the ones they like first).
  • If you know young people who are wondering what they should do with their lives, don’t discourage them from going into skilled trades.  I know quite a few electricians, plumbers, masons, etc. that happily make 6 figures each year.  A lot better than many jobs that require a suit and college debt.
  • (This last one is for me)  If you know good workers, tell them to call me.  I am looking for them too.  Good handymen, painters, drywallers, masons…I can use them all.

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