Construction Labor Shortage
In the summer of 2015, as the building recession was coming to an end, most in the construction industry were optimistic about the future. But in reality, the industry was and is still experiencing a shortage of qualified skilled labor. In this survey released in 2015 by the Associated General Contractors of America, nearly 80 percent of construction businesses were having a hard time filling positions with qualified skilled candidates. It goes beyond the construction industry. We are finding fewer and fewer young Americans who are choosing to learn a skilled trade. Because of this, our country is currently experiencing a construction and skilled labor shortage.
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), there were 214,000 open construction jobs in July 2016. This marks the second highest monthly count of open, unfilled jobs since May 2007. When the recession hit, many skilled workers dropped out of the industry, and have never returned. Additionally, an entire generation of younger workers are not even considering construction as a career option. Many high schools have phased out shop classes, while parents and schools increasingly have steered graduates to four-year colleges. Today, as older workers are retiring, there simply isn’t anyone ready to take their spots.
KAVANAH’s Plan to Close the Gap
The skilled labor shortage is a serious problem for America, but there is a solution! We have developed a grassroots campaign in four local high schools, and with YouthBuild of the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps. We have given these students and young adults an opportunity to provide a housing solution for homeless Veterans, while entering in to a career pathway; building a Tiny House.
While building a Tiny House, these students and young adults are taught according to current industry standards. They are given architectural plans to follow, and are guided in framing, roofing, hanging windows and doors, dry wall, tape and texture, minor electrical and plumbing, painting, flooring, and trim finishes.
Beyond the Training
What we didn’t account for, and what is difficult to measure is the impact building of Tiny Houses is having on these students and young adults. When we presented the grassroots concept to the YouthBuild Corps Members, the young adults shared with us the struggles of homelessness they are facing within their own families and friends. One of the Corps Members had shared how he had quit the YouthBuild program twice, this being his third attempt. He had said he didn’t feel like he had focus before, but in building a Tiny House, his life now had purpose. We are happy to report he has since graduated, and completed the course!
A female high school student wanted construction training, not to enter in to the building industry, but the beauty industry. That’s right! She knew that one day she wanted to open up her own salon. By learning construction skills, she knows she will have the ability to design, create, and build her dream salon.
Others have shared with us their personal struggles with drug use. Many have given us their commitment to live drug free, in order to continue to participate in this grassroots campaign, and not to disappoint us, or the recipient of the Tiny House.
Plans to Grow
A national home builder has heard about our grassroots campaign, and has watched the building of Tiny Houses. We are excited to report they and 29 of their subcontractors have committed to hiring these students and Corps Members upon completion of the program, should they choose. We are also talking with 8 additional local schools to enact this opportunity for their students. This national new home builder very generously, and anonymously donated ALL of the building materials needed to complete 5 Tiny Houses!
With the help of our community, we will be able to expand this grassroots campaign in to a nation-wide program.