As we celebrate 2022 Careers in Construction month, we’re hearing from more members about the difficulty recruiting the next generation of home builders to our industry.
These issues are not unique to home building companies and trades. At a recent meeting of the Houston Community College Chancellor’s Business Champions Council, recruiting and training concerns were shared by a number of companies and organizations representing a variety of industries. A representative from a petrochemical manufacturing company reported a substantial need for new employees, and despite hiring several dozen new employees, they are seeing a high turnover as promising recruits show up for a few days and then disappear or under-perform to a point that they must be let go.
Others from technological and computer science related fields reported a lack of passion for opportunities to not just have jobs, but careers in good paying industries. Members of the council representing healthcare employers noted a decline in soft skills, including an inability to communicate in person with patients about their healthcare. When called upon on behalf of GHBA, I noted that our members are seeing similar challenges, and as an industry we are working to better explain that home building is not just about sticks and bricks, but about the impact of building community for families across our region.
As an association, we are also working to help workforce partners come together to share ideas and consult on opportunities to improve our offerings and fill needs for their students. On September 14, the GHBA Workforce Committee, led by Ron Rohrbacher, met with representatives from local programs including Texas A&M, Houston Community College, WorkTexas, San Jacinto College, and several local school districts to discuss ongoing and aspirational programs and how the home building industry can better support them.
Texas A&M professor and Past GHBA President Randy Birdwell, shared that his program in construction sciences will only grow. Their students are being well trained and finding employment. He expects that even with a softening of the market, the need for his students’ skills will continue to grow and the interest in construction careers will continue to rise.
James Gaylord is a teacher in Humble ISD at Summer Creek High School whose students are designing and constructing homes for Operation Finally Homes’ “Tiny Homes for Big Heroes.” He brought Lily, a student leader in his architecture program, to share her experience and meet a few of our workforce champions. He also brought 3D printed models of the tiny homes that the students have constructed over the last few years.
The wide-ranging discussion led to new connections among educators and plans for students to tour new home construction and other industry-related job sites.
The attendees were encouraged to share information and photos from their programs this month, as we celebrate Careers in Construction Month.
In the recent article from GHBA President Jennifer Keller, you can learn more about GHBA’s workforce efforts. If you are interested in getting involved in GHBA’s Workforce Committee or want to tell us about your efforts with local educational partners or programs, please reach out to Ron Rohrbacher or Aimee Bertrand.