Carpenters, electricians, and plumbers left the building industry during the downturn, and the industry is feeling their loss.

Apartment and condo construction are back on the rise in New Jersey – but as the pace of development recovers, the supply of skilled trades persons still lags behind. An estimated 30% of New Jersey’s carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and other skilled workers have left the building industry in the years since the downturn, and the current supply cannot meet the builders’ demand.

“Where you are looking at finer detail, the skills and the experience are critically important. Otherwise what happens is, you have to go back in and ‘undo’ mistakes rather than getting it right the first time,” says Patrick O’Keefe, economic analyst of Cohn/Reznick and former head of the New Jersey Builders Assocation.

In order to expand the supply of workers, New Jersey builders’ groups are launching apprentice initiatives in order to train a new supply of trades persons. Earlier this month, the Camden Career Initiative announced a new apprentice program to train 100 city residents for construction careers.

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