Efforts being made to hire veterans, close homebuilding labor-shortage gap

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Homebuilders are making the case to hire more veterans in the midst of a labor shortage in the construction industry. This summer, KXAN reported the challenges Austin is facing hiring skilled workers as the housing market continues to boom.

“The labor crunch here in Texas is big,” said Mike Starich, CEO of Orion Talent. “And so we identified construction companies to basically find opportunities that we could put our candidates into, like Daniel.”

Daniel Canizales says he chose to get into the industry because in a lot of ways, he grew up on the job site with his father, a trade.

“After college, went into the Navy. I was an officer for seven years and I just got out this year,” Canizales told KXAN.

He now works in land acquisition for homebuilder RSI Communities.

“Tons of opportunity in the industry. Austin’s blowing up. It’s kind of crazy how much work is going on here in Austin,” Canizales said.

But those work sites need workers. A recent workforce survey from the Associated General Contractors of America showed 69 percent of Texas contractors report having a hard time finding qualified workers.

“We’ve experienced it where the labor on the job is recruited away to go work on other sites for a little more money,” John Bohnen, Chief Operating Officer of RSI Communities said, speaking to the value of hiring people like Canizales.

“Their broad experience in the military certainly allows them to adapt to the construction industry very quickly,” he said. “That’s really helped us fill that void that our market really needs.”

And it helps veterans fill a void that can be created when they leave the service.

“There’s a whole career ahead of me. I’m starting in an analyst position, learning from the ground up just like I did when I was in the military,” Canizales said. “Those leadership skills, the discipline, the mission planning, being able to work in a team environment is really going to come in handy for me as I progress throughout this career.”

Data from the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows construction workers were paid $50,806 in 2015, up 19 percent from 2010. Texas saw the third highest residential construction wage growth, 33 percent from 2010-2015, behind only North Dakota and Georgia.

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