Skilled workers flee home construction

Filling jobs with qualified tradesmen won't be easy, experts say

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 30, 2011

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Denk remembers going to a conference in South Florida and three out of four taxi drivers were former construction workers. Denk asked them all if they would go back to construction if work returned, and all of them said, "I have my tools and truck; I don't like driving a taxi."

Nevertheless, Denk is not entirely optimistic because many other construction workers have gotten rid of their tools and trucks, plus many small-business owners -- i.e., suppliers or owners of lumber yards, etc. -- are out of business and they will never come back to the industry.

The key to getting construction going is the growth of the overall economy, and there have been some hopeful signs, mostly in the public sector. Also, multifamily starts are beginning to lift off; the apartment sector could be one of the big winners in the next year and a half.

"It's a worry for the construction industry," Simonson said. "When we finally do have more jobs, will we be able to still find the skilled workers who will be needed?"

Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on

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