Local Home Builders Discuss Difficulties in Finding Young, Quality Workers

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: Panelists discuss the challenges faced by the building trades in finding workers during a forum Tuesday at Cape Cod Community College

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: Panelists discuss the challenges faced by the building trades in finding workers during a forum Tuesday at Cape Cod Community College

BARNSTABLE – As the economy improves across Cape Cod and unemployment rates drop, the local construction and building trades are having difficulty in finding quality workers.

The Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod held a forum Tuesday night to examine the problem and look for answers.

Nationwide, 1.3 million jobs in the construction trades will need to be replaced in the coming years due to retirement, but the problem is that there are not many young people choosing to enter the professions.

At this week’s forum at Cape Cod Community College, contractors and vocational education officials stressed that there are good, high paying jobs across the industry, but they need to get to people at even younger ages if they’re going to replenish the jobs that need to be filled.

“We are having an extremely tough time filling jobs, not just with bodies, but with folks that have that work ethic and can see the future in the trade,” said Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod Executive Director Christine Duren.

In some cases, employers are reaching out to 5th and 6th grade students in an attempt to woo them to the technical high schools.

Employers looking for workers are having to advertise twice as much as other professions to find quality workers.

Contractors who spoke at the forum acknowledged that they can always find a body to do a job, but finding a responsible, quality employee is increasingly difficult.

Staff at the college said that the school has been revamping their curriculum in recent years to adjust to the needs of the industry.

Complicating the situation for the Cape is that many tradesman left Cape Cod at the height of the recession and never returned.

With an aging population, the demographics of Cape Cod work against an industry that needs younger workers.

“We have to get into the schools and also not just educate the students and the teachers and the counselors, but also the parents to let them know that there are viable, year-round, well-paying jobs here on the Cape in the construction trades,” said Duren.

Even if the industry can convince more young people to enter the construction workforce, finding housing may still be a challenge.

Cape Cod has significantly higher housing costs than other regions of the state and the country.

Speakers at the forum acknowledged that fixing the problem would require zoning changes that would allow more accessory apartments and denser housing.

By JUSTIN SAUNDERS and MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com Newscenter

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