Sunday, March 11, 2012

Skilled Labor and Modular Home Construction

Lately there have been articles in big publications, both in print and Internet form, that tell of the coming shortage in skilled labor in the US.  As jobs come back to America, more factories and industries will need to hire from a dwindling pool of skilled workers.

Housing is no different.  Laws are being enacted and enforced to curb illegal workers in just about every phase of new home construction from framing to drywall to roofing.  If these workers are no longer available, who will take their place?  That my friends is the million dollar question.

Decades ago, young men home from college for the summer filled the positions and did so eagerly.  Today those young men and women are interning with high tech and internet companies during the summer knowing that they need to get experience in these fields instead of earning money for the fall semester.

Then the illegals filled those slots and did so for the next 20 years but now that the US government is cracking down on them, contractors will be in a bad place as the economy begins to pick up and housing starts increase.  Now they will have to fill those positions with untrained and unskilled and in a lot of instances, unemployable and homeless workers.  There are still a lot of good skilled workers out there but too many of them went into other, better paying jobs during the housing downturn.  Skilled workers tend to older workers and having them train these "new" employees will be a major challenge.  At least most of the illegal workers were looking for work in professions they had learned in their home country so extensive training was not needed.

Here is where modular can and will take the best and most skilled labor.  Workers in modular factories enjoy a clean, dry working environment, good wages and are trained on site by some of the best craftsmen and craftswomen in our industry, insuring a continuous supply of good people to build modular homes.

As site home builders begin to look forward to retirement, fewer new ones are stepping in to take their place and the ones that do probably won't want these unskilled and untrainable workers either.  So a lot of new home builders are looking at modular housing as the best way to build good, energy efficient homes that they can be proud to build their reputations on.

It's inevitable, modular housing will begin to take market share from site building and it will happen quickly.  If you are a new home builder and haven't looked into joining forces with a modular home factory, get ready for a long road ahead training and retraining your employees.

If you are looking to build a new home soon and don't look at modular housing, you may find that the people building your site built home were clerks at 7-11 yesterday and framing your home today.

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