Fueled by a shortage of qualified workers in nearly every job in the home building industry, construction industry leaders in Colorado have taken matters into their own hands. Late last month, they launched the Colorado Home Building Academy, a construction school that will elevate and support youth and adults starting careers in home building.

Courtesy CHBA

Designed by construction and education industry leaders, the Colorado Home Building Academy is dedicated to advancing home building opportunities for businesses, workers, job seekers, and students. It puts the best practices of existing industry training under one roof, providing a hands-on, training-to-placement approach to prepare its students for a meaningful career. At the same time, the program provides employers with qualified, motivated, and skilled workers who can meet industry demands now and into the future.

“The home building industry has been plagued by a shortage of high-quality workers,” said Pat Hamill, chairman and chief executive of Oakwood Homes, who had the vision to unite the industry in creating the Academy. “Preparing and training the workforce is the key to ensuring our industry remains healthy.”

Nearly 200,000 construction industry jobs nationwide are vacant at a boom time for home builders—a jump of 81 percent in just two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). Created to address that shortage, the academy is led by Michael Smith, who most recently was the executive director of Colorado Construction Institute (CCI), a non-profit organization working to address the construction labor shortage.

The academy targets adult students who are under-employed or unemployed and transitioning military veterans who are seeking a career with competitive pay and benefits. The program is also currently working with five high schools in the Denver Metro area and plans to double the number of partner schools next year. The Building Pathways program takes place both in classrooms and the field, and offers practical, focused and industry-aligned pathways to jobs.

The program's curriculum, which includes Construction Skills Boot Camp, Superintendent Training and Infrastructure Boot Camp, will launch a Contractor Development series later this year. Partners joining Oakwood Homes include Precision Building Systems, The Foundation for Educational Excellence, the University of Denver Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management and the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver.