Monday, April 15, 2019

Training Could Be Modular Housings Secret Weapon for Success

We’ve all heard there is a growing shortage of skilled labor for the home construction industry and that shortage is also hitting the modular housing industry.


Gen X and Millennial workers have not shown the interest in entering the ‘hands on’ trades like the retiring Boomers did. What they don’t fully understand is “Making Things” with their hands has been civilization’s path to success since the beginning of time.

While new trends in how things are made can be found in other industries, single family home building has always been and will continue to be a real ‘hands on’ business. Modular home production lines may someday see some semblance of automation but until that happens many new hands will need to added.

Even though many modular home factories paying premium wages for their work, over 75% percent of them are leaving jobs unfilled, a factor that will soon reach critical levels as the continuing acceptance of modular construction both in the single family and the commercial markets takes hold.


New panelized factories are sprouting up everywhere to try and alleviate site builder’s shortage of framing labor and enjoying great success. However that is such a small part of what is ailing site builders today.The lack of electricians, plumbers, drywall installers and skilled trim out labor still plagues site building and the future doesn’t look promising for those builders.

In some counties of the US there are more small site builders than there are modular home factories in the entire United States. Let that sink for a minute.

If labor for site builders is in short supply because the available labor pool has dried up in their county they may have no alternative but to either close their doors, pay a lot more for labor or, wait for it, embrace modular home construction.

New home builders are construction companies that build single-family homes. But what would happen if a lot of them decided to switch to modular rather than panelized?

It would mean new modular home factories would need to be built, established factories would need to expand and the need for production line training would increase.

There are a lot of people that would love to work with their hands out there but finding them and making modular home production line work something they would like as a career can be the real challenge.

But it’s a challenge that our industry must meet. It can start as simply as several modular factories in close proximity joining forces to teach actual production line skills.

A good example of an industry needing training can be found only 3 miles from my office. The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, ranked #1 by Forbes, is a trade school for aviation mechanics and electronics with 4 locations.

The one near me opened a few years back and I noticed only a couple cars in parking lot the first year, a few more each year following until I drove past it last week where I not only saw a completely full parking lot but cars parked on the grass and along the highway.

Our industry is strong enough to support skilled labor training for our production lines.

If we could plan and implement a real training program we will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to providing all the new homes that site builders, developers and investors could ever want.

2 comments:

Gerald Robinson said...

Skills training is key to the success of any organisation , early linkage to colleges and schools will give young people a direction to head in and help focus their energies as they prepare to exit academia and enter the world of work.
Retention of those young people is then the responsibility of the employer and depends on how much they challenge , reward and develop them to achieve their potential.
A challenging factory environment provides a fantastic environment to develop skills and experience at every level in the organisation and may be the key to improving construction productivity.

Chris Jones said...

Standardized Work is the foundation of continuous improvement and would be a powerful tool in the modular housing industry. Not only would it improve quality but provide a great base to train from and improve skills.