Demand for trade skills rising as housing market rebounds - KMSP-TV

Demand for trade skills rising as housing market rebounds

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

When the building industry bottomed out in Minnesota during the recession, a lot of contractors went elsewhere in search of work. Now, the jobs are back but the workers aren't -- and demand is rising.

After it became clear that housing starters in Minnesota were a bust, many laborers left for the oil boom in North Dakota and the prospect of making more money.

"As the work dried up, the labor pool soon needed to find other avenues," Morgan Bickel, with Lennar Homes, told Fox 9 News. "We did experience some shortages for the first couple years of the recession."

After striking a balance in the years that followed while projects lulled, the climate has changed. With construction work coming back in a big way, some workers builders are struggling to keep up with demand -- especially when it comes to specialized skills.

Last month, permits for new construction in the Twin Cities were up by double digits. Now that the real estate market is rebounding in Minnesota, some builders are having a hard time attracting enough carpenters and other trade workers to get the work done.

Bickel said his company is taking a new approach to make sure they have enough workers to keep up. They're creating job security through better communication with trade workers.

"I've heard, again, through the grapevine that some of the other builders are experiencing some labor shortages currently," he said. "We have pretty much secured all of the building partners we need to fulfill our needs for this year and into the years to come."

An analysis from the Department of Employment and Economic Development found Minnesota will need an extra 8,400 carpenters and nearly 6,300 electricians.

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