Policy

Construction Talent Of The Future Is Here, ... Hidden In Plain Sight

We come to the end of the beginning of a new decade with plenty of good reason to celebrate stunning achievement in the face of challenge. Too, a new future of work in building has only just begun to make an impact.

Policy

Construction Talent Of The Future Is Here, ... Hidden In Plain Sight

We come to the end of the beginning of a new decade with plenty of good reason to celebrate stunning achievement in the face of challenge. Too, a new future of work in building has only just begun to make an impact.

December 1st, 2022
Construction Talent Of The Future Is Here, ... Hidden In Plain Sight
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Give or take, frontline team members and their homebuilding company partners are on pace to complete 2.5 billion square feet worth of new, ground-up single-family homes to wrap up 2022. This output will have fed a firehose of annual revenues to homebuilder sellers of, conservatively, $450 billion.

These benchmarks go hand in hand with a million or so moms, dads, grandparents, kids, friends, retirees, first responders, self-starters, office workers, and on and on, who now – in 2022 – or will soon occupy a house that in one way or another is their brand new place to live, their sanctuary.

They now live there. Memories, milestones, miracles, and more to come that makes these new houses home.

This staggering accomplishment comes about in spite of every obstacle imaginable, and some that could never have been imagined – most of them interrelated and interwoven, global, domestic, regional, municipal, hyperlocal.

  • supply chain chokeholds
  • chronic labor constraint
  • permitting and inspections delays
  • health issues
  • soaring input costs
  • demand destruction

The only question here, then, is within what dimension of reality is it fair or accurate to say either that this – the homebuilding industry – is a "backward" sector of the economy?

Similarly, how is it possible to consider the facts above and say that people who make this their livelihood – frontline workers, superintendents and construction managers, team members up and down homebuilding and real estate's foodchain, including all their partners – evidence this notion below?

Work has become a dirty word." – Wall Street Journal, Nov. 13, 2022

Dog whistle dismissals don't mesh with a real world of people – the ones literally building a million new single-family homes – whose work is a reflection of their character. Anyone who'd write that doesn't get out to the job sites to see what goes on, and the torrent of hard problems it takes to solve among the teams of people who've strived and overcome and wound up producing a million new U.S. single-family homes.

People who throw out this "work has become a dirty word" trope should actually go out to job sites and workplaces at six, or seven, or eight pm, and actually take note of what's happening in many low-slung warehouses, and facilities, and industrial plants, in front of white boards, in labs, and in web and engineering  development sprints.

Anyone who's down or discouraged about how and where the future of work in homebuilding, development, and solutions is going to truly ignite should have been so lucky as to have visited a jobsite south of Phoenix, where another 49 of those million or so homes are going up and will be ready for a certificate of occupancy in the next few months or so.

Image courtesy of NAHB Eye On Housing

Anyone who doubts the field – which as of the latest JOLTS data release, counts 371,000 open construction headcount positions -- will be able to attract and retain the talent-power to amp up production to an even greater volume level once economic conditions and mortgage rates resume equilibrium should see what's going on at sites like this.

You should witness the work of one of the fellows we met this week, as he sat in a construction site trailer, with a Bluetooth headset and mic and three big monitors, each its own dashboard of color-coded, flashing and flickering data-sets in motion as the job – going on in real time outside the windows of the vehicle – progressed like a literal hive of constant, fully-orchestrated human and machine activity.

This fellow was – just a little over a year ago – working in a warehouse, lifting dead-weight bags of Portland cement at barely over minimum wage.

Today, he's "driving" a home from slab-to-completion in record-setting times that are only the beginning of the beginning of a transformation in residential construction – not just of its outputs but in its human capital and capability.

Today, he's living proof of two things. One, is that anyone who claims that "work is a dirty word" as a categorical insight, needs to get out more. Two is that anybody who may despair of the future of building and construction's shallowed-out talent pool won't have too much longer to wait for manifest signs of a tipping point to the positive.

It's going on now. Hidden in plain sight.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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