Access to skilled labor is a challenge for the industry across the country, especially in states like Michigan. The state lost a generation of residential construction industry professionals during the housing market downturn according to Dawn Crandall, EVP of Government Relations, Home Builders Association of Michigan (HBAM).
Since the downturn, the HBA developed programming to cultivate, educate and recruit the next generation of skilled trade professionals. Exposure to the trades should start as early as possible, Crandall said. In fact, HBAM has invested in resources designed to raise awareness of careers in construction for students as early as kindergarten.
To help make this happen, HBAM is working with both legislators and educators. Michigan passed a bill that requires that one day each year, students in kindergarten through 12th grade must be provided with an age-appropriate career awareness day. The law went into effect in 2020, which was when the HBAM launched its reading month program in March.
HBAM provided Michigan legislators with copies of Billy the Builder Bear Builds a House book to read to elementary students. Through HBAM’s relationship with local educators, it was able to provide copies of the book to approximately 20,000 students in kindergarten through third grades. For Careers in Construction Month in October, HBAM delivers activity books to students in fourth through sixth grades. The HBA is also in the process of working with state legislators to secure funding to provide copies of a skilled trades career guide. The association's goal is to provide a copy of the guide to every 8th-12th grader in Michigan, which is 250,000 students.
In addition to providing literature to students in the state, HBAM also is working with the Career Technical Education department within the Michigan Department of Education to create a recognized credential for students in the construction trades program.
HBAM and its members are determined to raise the visibility of the value of careers in construction through a variety of programs. “As the industry continues to feel the impact of a labor shortage, it's time to think outside the box to find your workforce,” noted Crandall.
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