BOISE - While it may appear business is booming, construction officials, both commercial and real estate, say they can’t keep up with the industry growth because it’s a challenge finding people to do the work.
“This shortage of workers is having a real impact on the commercial side, I had a roofer here today that said they are booked solid between now and January. So if you are a commercial owner and you want a roof on your building your looking at winter months before you can do that,” said Wayne Hammon, CEO of Associated General Contractors.
And Justin Hall, President of the Builders Contract Association in Southwest Idaho, says real estate construction is facing the same dilemma, finding people to do the job.
“It will take longer to build a house. In the long term prices will go up a little bit,” said Hall.
Both Hall and Hammon say specifically it's plumbers, electricians and masons that are in high demand.
“A lot of those people who were laid off during the recession got retrained in manufacturing, and so while they may have worked construction back in 2002 or 2005, they got trained on how to be a mechanic so they have left the industry because they were retrained during the downturn,” said Hammon.
So how will the construction industry replenish its labor pool?
Hammon says it’s not an overnight solution, but step one is education.
"There are a lot of people in Idaho that are interested in living here, but not in four years of college and four years of debt, but they can get certified as an electrician or a mason in a much shorter time for a lot less money and make just as much in the outcome if they went to a four year school," said Hammon. "82 percent of construction workers in Idaho have health insurance provided by their employer.”
Hammon added that it’s going to take all of Idaho to fill this void.
“This winter we are going to be asking the legislature to help us, not just out more kids through college but let’s get more kids the technical skills they need for a good job,” he said.
To learn more about construction jobs in Idaho click here.
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