Everywhere you look in Houston, something is being rebuilt or constructed, but many of those projects are slow to develop due to an ongoing shortage of skilled laborers nationwide.
The shortage comes as demand for construction grows. Some projects in Texas feel like they've been under construction for years. Part of that delay is due to Hurricane Harvey.
“People who had planned to build a new home or maybe expand their business, instead they're having to replace what was lost, or perhaps the company went out of business itself or lost its customer base,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America.
The bigger issue says Simonson, is too many parents and schools discourage kids from entering the building trades industry
“They try to push everybody directly to college,” he says. “And a result, the number of people entering construction is not keeping up with the demand for workers, just at a time when so many more people are retiring.”
The AGCA is working with school districts to include the building trades as part of STEM and CTE programs.
“The industry is a huge user of drones, of GPS and laser-guided equipement, and it's experimenting with things like brick-laying robots and 3D printers,” says Simonson.
He says 90-percent of Houston contractors are hiring, but most can't find anyone trained to do the job.