The region's booming economy and strong job growth has led to a major increase in construction, with contractors seeing a 'Goldilocks' situation in the market, with business not too hot and not too soft, but just right.
"Offices are dong well, medical is doing well, retail is doing well," said Kirk Kistner, Vice President of Bartlett Cocke General Contractors, which is a firm which does non residential construction projects across the state. "Educational construction, institutional construction."
He says with homebuilding also red hot across San Antonio and much of Texas, the only segment of the construction industry which is not clicking on all cylinders today is higher education, and he attributes that to a lack of tuition bond funded projects since 2009.
But Kistner says there is one challenge which is threatening to slow the growth of the contraction industry, even in booming Texas. Kistner says it is getting harder and harder to find skilled trades and craftsmen.
"Kids today aren't seeing those jobs as great opportunities," he said. "they see those jobs as old economy, and not a part of the new economy."
Kistner says there is a lot to be said about getting involved in skilled trades, starting with the fact that an apprenticeship can substitute for a traditional four year college degree, and its attendant student loan debt.
"You go through an apprenticeship program, you can become a licensed electrician or a licensed plumber, and you have the ability to start your own company, and really create wealth for yourself well beyond working for an hourly wage," he said.
He says that is not the kind of potential financial independence you can get becoming a teacher or even a lawyer or a doctor.
He says another challenge as construction ramps up is that the price of construction materials is rising, and the lack of skilled contractors is also forcing builders to pay higher wages for those individuals.
Posted Friday, July 18th 2014 @ 12pm