The custom home building sector has had a surprisingly sluggish start to the year in 2013. New custom home starts in most areas of Ontario are down, this is the same trend that happened last year as well, if the trend continues like 2012 then the second half of the year into the fall will be much stronger as the fall of 2012 ended up.
My phone and email in box are filling up with people looking for jobs, I’m seeing a lot of trades men looking for a job that are willing to relocate if they can get a full time job in our area that will be long term.
The actual applicants are of all ages, but one trend that I am noticing is that there are a lot of younger people that have had some training from trade colleges and the provincial apprentice program looking for a job or at the least they are looking for a better one then where they are currently employed. It is a good trend to see that people are taking the time to become educated in the profession that they want to work in, but on the other hand most of the people that I have talked to have little to no on job experience.
In my company I do not require applicants to have experience, especially if they are applying for an apprenticeship position. What I am finding is that the salary expectations are out of line. Applicants are asking for too high a starting wage with little to no experience.
In a construction industry that is under a lot of strain because of the higher cost of materials, contractors cannot add to that cost with high unskilled labour costs. Ever tightening rules and regulations on safety and building codes are also driving up the price of custom homes. The squeeze on contractors is getting worse as a general theme, what is being heard from perspective clients is that the price of their new custom home is just too high. The cost of building a custom home has become prohibitive to a lot of people that in the past would be able to have a custom home built.
I am hearing more and more complaints from younger people that there aren’t that many jobs in the construction industry and even less that are offering apprenticeships. A lot of builders have shrunk their companies to the point where they do not have enough licensed tradesmen to qualify for apprentices. This is putting younger workers into a position where they do not get hours toward their apprenticeship if they take a job with one of these companies, but on the other hand with little work at the moment in the industry any job is better than nothing.
The growth of young females in a lot of the trades as apprenticeships continues to grow with more and more women taking the opportunity to get in the industry. Carpentry, cabinet making and electricians are seeing a healthy dose of women joining the ranks. Plumbing is one area that has not seen much growth with the female demographic, in general young people overall are not entering into the plumbing trade as apprentices. This is a strange thing for the ability to stay employed and make a higher salary as a plumber should be a larger draw, but for some reason the profession just doesn’t seem to be that attractive to younger people.
The construction industry seems to be in a holding pattern at the moment, with less than ideal conditions for growth. If the economy should turn around then the construction industry would be able to ramp up into a higher gear, there is a great potential for a lot of young smart enthusiastic people to be trained to help take the industry into the next generation. A properly trained younger, eager, enthusiastic workforce is something this industry with an aging skilled work force desperately requires.
Village Builders Inc.