In the Certified Apartment Manager course that I discussed earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to interact with a large group of managers that work in the Charlotte region.
They mentioned during one of our conversations that they were having an extremely difficult time finding quality maintenance technicians for their communities. These are the workers that handle service requests at the community involving plumbing, electrical, appliances or HVAC units.
There are a few reasons I believe they are having trouble locating these workers:
1. The job market is improving and when some workers get the opportunity to sit in an air conditioned office vs. working outside in the 90 degree heat, they choose the office
2. The supply of new apartments units in Charlotte is growing rapidly. As I drive around the area I see new buildings under construction everywhere. It feels a lot like it did when I first moved back here in 2007, only during that time it was new condos and single family homes being built everywhere.
3. New workers entering the workforce are not interested in maintenance jobs.
I met a young man this afternoon who recently graduated from a Center For Employment Training where he received a diploma in "Building Maintenance Service." He learned in a classroom style setting how to handle repairs. Then the school put him into volunteer job positions where he worked with experienced technicians to learn real life job skills in a hands on manner.
Compare him to the ocean of young men and women in America paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their law degree. They are leaving school and finding they are unable to get an entry level position earning $30,000 (I have lawyers on my mind because I came across a good article this weekend titled The US Lawyer Bubble Has Popped).
The young man I spoke with today will have a line of employers bidding for his services. He'll probably start out at $35,000 a year in the North Carolina area but he'll quickly move up to a supervisor role and beyond if he continues to build his skill set. He'll be doing something he loves, which I could tell by talking to him, and he'll earn a good living for his family. What he will not have is $300,000 in student loan debt to pay (he did not attend college).
For more on education focused on job skills see:
How The Free Market Will Soon Destroy The College Bubble