Thank a Framer Campaign Takes Aim at Construction Labor Shortage
The residential construction industry is facing a shortage of nearly 200,000 workers, slowing homebuilding and remodeling, but some companies are trying to change that.
From 2006 through 2011, the construction industry lost 2.3 million jobs, and many of those people have since found other employment. In the meantime, the pipeline for training people to work as framers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC installers and other trades has shrunk over the years.
The shortage means nearly 80 percent of construction businesses are having a hard time finding skilled labor, according to a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America. The National Association of Homebuilder said that 69 percent of its members have experienced delays in completing projects due to the shortage of qualified workers.
To help address the shortage, Norbord launched the "Thank a Framer" campaign to show appreciation to framers and carpenters, a key trade in the construction industry. In support of the campaign, Norbord in August 2017 donated $100,000 to the HBI to support training new construction professionals to help ease the labor shortages.
The HBI, an affiliation of the National Home Builders Association provides training for prospective construction professionals, veterans and underserved youth.
Then, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Norbord contributed $1 million to support HBI construction training in Texas and Florida.
HBI’s industry-recognized training program is an “open-entry, skilled-exit” model and is one of only three curricula recognized by the Department of Labor. The program is designed to train, certify and place individuals in construction trades skills, including carpentry and framing houses, over 12- to 14-week periods. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports, reconstruction in the hurricane-hit areas will take years.
Norbord launched the campaign to draw attention construction labor shortages and the career path that skilled tradespeople can follow.
"We wanted to help address this issue and get more people, young people, in particular, to look at skilled trades as a real legitimate opportunity in terms of a career path and bring attention to the HBI and their curriculum," said Ross Commerford, director of marketing for Norbord. "Not everyone has to go to college, you can go through the HBI training in a few months and start making good money."
As a manufacturer of OSB panels and other construction materials, Norbord wanted to support the people that install its products. As he traveled to various job sites, Commerford saw the skills and commitment required to build a career in construction.
"I was always struck by the level of respect that builders had for the framers in terms of the jobs that were to be done, people working from sunrise to sunset in extremely hot or cold conditions and in a fairly arduous yet skilled profession," he said.
HBI's mission is to help fill the pipeline for construction trades, working with youth, veterans, prisoners and other populations. The free HBI training is offered on military bases, high schools, juvenile correction facilities, and the largest location is a prison in Illinois that trains over 150 inmates each day, Courson said.
"Getting a certification and getting a job in construction is a good thing, but the industry hasn't done a good job of telling that story," Courson said.
HBI works with the more than 700 state and local builders' associations for job placements, and about 86 percent of the graduates find work with builders.
Companies: Norbord, Inc.