Hurricane Harvey recovery puts the squeeze on Houston's training centers
- Houston-area training and vocational centers are struggling to meet demand for skilled construction workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Chronicle reports. An employee at SER-Jobs for Progress, a local employment services and training non-profit, told the Chronicle that calls from employers seeking the program's graduates occur "pretty much daily."
- The Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council developed a three-week, pre-apprenticeship course with 120 hours of training in construction math, blueprint reading and on-the-job safety to train workers. Of 20 students who enrolled in November, 19 were hired immediately after completion (with the remaining one dropping out).
- At a separate boot camp course offered by Houston Community College — in which students learn A/C repair, electrical, plumbing and welding — many trainees are recruited to work long before completing the 14-week program.
While Harvey and Irma may have cost the U.S. economy in excess of 30,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality primarily, construction workers are experiencing the opposite effect. Both disasters spurred a hiring push for skilled, and even partially-skilled, workers by construction companies struggling to complete existing projects and assist with recovery efforts.
Commercial builders are also feeling pressure as workers move to the more in-demand residential building sector with the promise of ever-increasing wages in a competitive hiring market. ManpowerGroup's Net Employment Outlook suggests that the hiring outlook for construction is at its highest in more than 10 years.
The fallout from Harvey, Irma and other disasters highlights the need to create more apprenticeship opportunities and keep a steady stream of skilled workers in the applicant pool. The push from the Trump administration to expand U.S. apprenticeships may prove instrumental to upskilling new and displaced workers in highly sought-after fields.