Winter is coming. But this winter brings new challenges for the construction industry in Maine. No, it’s not the White Walkers.
Before this year, winter was always an employers’ market – as demand for construction ebbs in December, subcontractors find themselves looking for work. At Hardypond Construction, we’ve always made a point to have enough work to keep our team employed all year long. Though challenging at times in a state perpetually lagging in industry, we never went back on this promise.
Well, times have changed and keeping construction workers employed during the winter is no longer an issue. Year-long construction is now commonplace and we General Contractors find ourselves with a surplus of demand compared to the available workforce.
What is causing this? The current construction boom is part of the economic up-turn the entire country is experiencing. Couple this with Maine’s declining population, Baby boomers retiring, and the exodus of young people from Maine and you get the situation we find ourselves in. But what is making this go from bad to worse is the recent hurricane season.
Developers and General Contractors in weather ravaged Texas and Florida have been pursuing subcontractors from all over the country for the needed repair work, and they have successfully lured many subs from Maine. The recovery for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria is important, but this leaves Maine in an unfamiliar situation with no short-term solutions.
There are viable long-term strategies. We can put more money into improving educational programs focused on trades and STEM in grade schools, community colleges, and technical schools. We can also take steps to improve the image that goes along with construction careers – the trades should receive the respect they deserve. And women, half of the population, represent a huge pool of untapped talent that could be steered and encouraged toward careers in construction.
Through our work with organizations like New Ventures Maine we are working to turn the tide and bring more talented people into the trades workforce. To learn more, visit the New Ventures Maine website.