Building industry seeks to attract workers
There's a statewide effort underway to attract new workers to the construction industry. It's called Project Build Minnesota and is led by builders looking to spread the word that there's a good life built by construction.

David Siegel is doing his part to change how people think about construction jobs. 

"We've lost that idea that building something and doing artisan work is something we should all be proud of. We used to be the king of country where this type of work was lauded," said Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities-Housing First Minnesota.
Siegel knows his industry needs to attract new workers now. It's why the Builders Association of the Twin Cities is one of the founders of Project Build Minnesota. An aging workforce, coupled with exiting workers during the Great Recession, have led the building industry to a worker shortage.

"It is to the point where we are now seeing delays in projects, and we're seeing challenges in getting work done, both on the residential side and the commercial side," said Siegel.

Focus on young adults

Builders around the state are banding together to launch Project Build Minnesota. Its goal is to introduce young adults and even those looking for a second career to the opportunities in construction.

"The average compensation in this industry is in the $60,000 range. We've got a lot of folks making six figures doing plumbing and electrical work, and then a lot of folks move on to start their own businesses."
At Scherer Bros. Lumber Company, headquartered in Brooklyn Park, Paul Legrid has made a 33-year career out of the sales and business side of construction since starting in the 1980s.

"There was just so much opportunity, if you wanted to dig in and work hard," said Legrid. "It's fun to be part of building a house."

Legrid knows there's opportunities for anyone who wants to work with their hands and create something.

"This is a great place to start, there's good money to be made, plenty of work out there," said Legrid.

The projects are there, the building industry just needs to find the people.

"We're talking housing, we're talking utility contractors, which is roads, we're talking commercial contracting, which might be a small office building all the way up to something like the Vikings stadium," said Siegel. 

Part of Project Build Minnesota involves its website with career opportunities and information on it, but the initiative also includes building industry officials talking with students, school counselors and administrators about the availability of construction jobs.

Alexandra Renslo reporting
Twitter: @alexrenslo

December 4, 2017


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