Hot home market builds construction jobs

A bright spot in the COVID economy
Posted at 7:46 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 22:46:49-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The coronavirus has put a deep chill on a lot of the job market, but made other jobs red hot.

If you want to rebound to something better it pays to know where the jobs are. Right now homebuilding is hot and if you want to tap into that, you’d better know your way around a hammer.

Homebuilding is one of the bright spots of the COVID economy. Mortgage rates are low. People are buying new homes with more room for home offices and for remote learning.

But there’s a shortage of people able to build those homes.

Craig Bal says, “Every day I have someone call me and say, ‘Hey, what students are ready to work?’”

Bal teaches construction at Pima JTED. He says builders are hiring students as fast as he can train them. And the money is good.

“So my kids that I just got hired for summer, they're starting at $16 an hour, some of the kids had a little bit more skills because they did another JTED course, they’re starting at $17.50 an hour. It’s crazy to think about that. This is right out of high school when I got out of high school, $10 an hour was the best paying job there was.”

But right now it’s a challenge to build hands-on skills in a hands-off COVID environment. Craig Bal’s students build some model projects at home, and work on-line towards the knowledge they need for safety and skills certifications homebuilders require.

Arfaxad Aguirre is one student who remembers building with his father.

He says, “He would always tell me it'd be like if you don't know what to do and if you really enjoy it, just in case construction stuff you really like doing hands-on things. Try it oh and then one day I moved to store my brother got me into the program and ever since then I started falling in love with it ever since then.”

And Craig Bal says he works to add work ethics to skills so his students are ready for early hours and hard days out on the work sites.