Even though 20 million people are out of work, there remains a shortage of skilled labor in the construction industry. The demand for houses continues to grow despite the pandemic or perhaps because of it: interest rates are at historic lows, which are making homes in high demand.
The National Association of Home Builders says that they have almost recovered most of the jobs lost because of Covid-19, but that isn’t good enough.
“Before COVID, we were 250,000 to 300,000 empty jobs in our industry,” said Ed Brady, CEO of the Home Builders Institute, a non-profit training group. “Now, the pandemic has caused unemployment, but that doesn’t mean there’s skilled labor.”
Even though skilled labor in construction can pay very well, Brady says it’s rare to see young people entering the field. The Home Builders Institute has begun an outreach program in 100 high schools across the country. They are also reaching out to underrepresented groups in the community like women, veterans, and people involved in the justice system.
Brady highlights one young man, Lewis, whose father died when he was 11 and has been in and out of juvenile detention. He decided to turn his life around thanks to the Home Builders Institute and has taken up hanging drywall while finishing high school. He says that his dream is to play basketball, but he wants to take full advantage of the construction skills he’s learning if that dream doesn’t come to fruition.