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The Importance of Workforce Development

Feb 2019

One of the keys to a vibrant building and construction sector is labor. Electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, welders, window installers, and other skilled workers are always in high demand—even more so today because their numbers have been dwindling. Anecdotal evidence suggests, for example, that the average of a plumber is 50+.

The industry faces a shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), there are currently 243,000 unfilled jobs in the sector. That number is expected to rise to 747,600 by 2026. The Association for Career and Technical Education estimates a shortfall of at least one million skilled workers in non-residential construction through 2020.

Any absence in skilled workers threatens the sector—and the vinyl industry.

The vinyl industry relies on a strong housing sector to thrive. Currently 70 percent of all vinyl resin produced in the U.S. goes into the building and construction sector. It’s in water pipes, cables, siding, decking, windows, roofs and more.

That’s why the Vinyl Institute and its partners across the vinyl value chain support investments in community colleges and workforce development programs.

Here are two examples of workforce development at work.

The Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) has rolled out a workforce development initiative to attract new installers. The initiative includes educational and apprenticeship paths as well as on-the-job opportunities. VSI has also created a video to attract new workers into the profession.

NAHB, meanwhile, has adopted a two-pronged approach to mitigate the problem. First, they have secured a $50 million grant from Home Depot and other companies for workforce development. Second, they are working to develop a viable pipeline for temporary foreign workers to keep the building and construction sector vibrant until new American workers are recruited, trained, and on-the-job.