Need For Skilled Trades Rises With Boom In Home Building Industry

Michigan’s expecting a bit of a house building boom this year, and skilled workers are in high demand.

But some are worried there aren’t enough workers.

The Michigan Homebuilders Association reports new housing permits will rise by eight percent this year.

Construction companies say the work keeps coming in — but the job applications are not.

When the economy took a dive in 2008 the skilled workforce did as well.

Now they need more people qualified in trades like construction, plumbing and welding to keep up with the housing rebound.

“From electricians, heating, ventilation and cooling, plumbing — all those fields are in dire straits of a pipeline of new employees and it really hits hard with the construction industry,” said David Cox, director of career and technical education at the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center.

With the growing number of homes ready to be built in Michigan — the number of skilled workers needs to grow as well.

The current void has stopped some construction companies from taking on more jobs.

“We can find a lot of guys that are willing to work but they don’t necessarily have the skill set we need to take on even more work than we’re taking on,” said Ken Orshal, owner of Orshal Construction.

Career tech centers like the one in Wexford County train young students in fields like construction and welding.

They say they’re trying to get young more people trained in these fields.

“There’s good money involved and it’s good work and everyone’s gonna need it,” said student Isaac Edikauskas.

Governor Rick Snyder is a big supporter of of skilled labor.

His proposed budget gives more funding and incentives for people to go into these technical fields — which is what many say Michigan needs.

“I think that’s a great direction,” Orshal said. “I think there’s a little bit of a stigma around that they’re low paying jobs, it’s that type of a situation, and its not.”

“It’s not just swinging a hammer. There’s mathematical reasoning involved, there’s team work involved,” Cox said. “It’s a technically saturated and savvy world out there and students need to understand that.”

There are many ways people can get trained in these trades whether it’s attending a career tech center or seeking out an apprenticeship.

The jobs are available — many just need to be educated.

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