The production supply chain in the real estate industry isn't quite firing on all cylinders. The economy is at its strongest point in recent memory - with gross domestic product growth exceeding the unemployment rate, as reported by multiple news organizations - but this is part of the reason why the supply chain isn't meeting expectations - builders can't keep up with the pace of demand among homebuyers.
But there's another factor at work: labor. Developers don't have enough of it. In an attempt to build up the industry's manpower, builders are looking to women as a potential solution to the shortfall.
Women represent 9 percent of construction workforce
With Professional Women in Building Week in full swing - observed Sept. 17-21 - the National Association of Home Builders is renewing its entreaty for more women to join the ranks of the construction sector. At present, men outnumber women by a near 10 to 1 margin. Given that the country's populace is composed of more women than men - not to mention female employees representing 47 percent of the working population - this ratio is off-kilter.
Judy Dinelle, chair of the NAHB's Professional Women in Building Council, said there's never been a more opportune period for more women to come aboard and bring greater balance to labor crews.
"Right now more than ever is the time for our industry to not only increase our recruitment efforts, but to also change the way we talk about careers in home building to show women this industry has so much to offer them," Dinelle explained. "We need to help the public, guidance counselors and parents understand that the industry provides a high income, significant work values, job security and a sense of accomplishment."
Although the real estate industry is healthy and home values are rising - making investing in a home a move recommended by most financial advisors - insufficient inventory is preventing the sector from reaching its potential. In July, for example, the typical home sold less than a month - 27 days - after it went up for sale, according to the most recent statistics available from the National Association of Realtors. That's down from 30 days a year earlier.
The NAHB believes that the labor supply chain can get a real shot in the arm by directing more recruitment efforts toward women. Dinelle said the PWB intends to do so by developing more pre-apprenticeship programs, so women who may be unfamiliar with what the industry has to offer can get a better understanding of its value to them.
"We've seen examples of pre-apprenticeship programs that are really quite successful, so we need to replicate those programs and implement them into more communities across the country," Dinelle stated. "We should all promote and offer to help the programs and organizations that provide training for women. It's our responsibility to put our words into action."
The construction sector as a whole is short staffed, which is why the White House recently signed an executive order that would expand job training and apprenticeships opportunities for college students - both men and women. NAHB Chairman Randy Noel lauded the efforts made by the Trump administration and pledged to expand training and certification. The goal is to add 50,000 new workers to the industry by 2023.