Bailey discusses Colorado Springs construction worker shortage

Bailey featured in KOAA News.

Lena Howland, KOAA
A shortage in construction workers is being felt across the nation and it's hit Colorado Springs hard.

To watch Tatiana Bailey discuss the construction worker shortage on KOAA, click here.

A shortage in construction workers is being felt across the nation and it's hit Colorado Springs hard.

While it's no secret the demand is high for housing across the city right now and it's been growing for decades, but without enough skilled workers to build those houses, it's driving prices up and contributing to the housing shortage.

Home to Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, 300 days of sunshine and a number of jobs, just waiting to be filled.

"I agree with you, people need to stop moving here, we need to stop saying how great our state is," Tatiana Bailey, Director of the UCCS Economic Forum said.

Since 2006, the El Paso County population has increased by 18 percent, but construction employment hit an all time low in 2011 after the recession.

While it's slowly rebounding, it's still down by 14 percent.

"I mean it's the old economic adage that when you have an increase in demand and a decrease in supply, what's going to happen to prices? They're going to go up," Bailey said.

Bailey says part of the problem has been losing shop classes in high schools.

"A lot of individuals also say well my child is going to go to a four year university and do this or that and that's certainly not a bad thing but it's not for everyone and the good news is there are livable wages in a lot of these trades," she said.

She says the median salary hits right around $51,000 for these jobs.

Still though, Classic Homes, a competitive home builder that's been a part of expanding Colorado Springs for the past two decades says they've also felt the impact.

"We're in a weird situation right now where we're selling a lot of homes but we also don't have the trades to immediately build those homes so as a responsible company and a responsible partner of Colorado Springs, you need to be able to make sure that you schedule your homes accordingly," Marc Towne, Director of Classic Homes said.

And even though the labor shortage isn't something new, it is just starting to become clear.

"Reason being, is that when the economy starts to slide, we don't notice the trade shortage as much, but now with the economy up, we notice that a lot of the trades that were here in 2008-2011, they left Colorado and then they didn't return," Towne said.

The Housing and Building Association is working hard to fight this problem by putting those shop classes back into area high schools, developing a program called Careers in Construction three years ago.

"But the thing is, these things don't happen overnight so if you have a shortage, it takes time for people to sort of ramp up and get the appropriate training that they need," Bailey said.

The Careers in Construction non-profit program is now in five high schools across El Paso County.