Master Builders Hope $5 Million Dollar Endowment Can Help Close Skilled Labor Shortage

DES MOINES, Iowa --It’s pretty hard to believe based on the amount of construction the Des Moines metro is seeing, but the rate these buildings are being completed at is actually slower than what it could be. The Master Builders of Iowa say there needs to be new blood in the construction industry.

“Construction employment in Iowa is over 75,000 people, and we are nine percent below where we were in 2016,” said MBI CEO Chad Kleppe.

MBI recently announced a five-million-dollar endowment to help create a buzz about construction. Kleppe says schools, non-profits, and contractors will have access to a few hundred thousand dollars a year to fund programs that will get young Iowans interested in a construction career.

“We have a lot of kids coming out of high school right now who are a little indecisive about what their career could hold. We need to bring more people into the industry, we need to look at minorities to join the industry, women to join into the workforce in construction,” said Kleppe.

Home developers like Ron Braga say they would be grateful for the added workforce.

“It takes a lot longer to build because we have to wait longer to get the sub-contractors on the site. The sub-contractors say the same thing, it's hard to get the workers, good quality people,” said Braga.

Braga says developers need to build quickly because of how fast the metro is expanding.

“Well they're talking that the Des Moines metro is going to be over a million population by 2040 and we need to but about 5,400-5,500 roofs in every year, so a lot of good growth,” he said.

Beyond being able to build faster, both Kleppe and Braga say construction is a great opportunity for the next generation.

“There's a lot of opportunities as far as working your way up, getting your own shop, getting your own employees working for you. I mean a lot of the subcontractors we've worked with for a number of years are making good incomes, really good incomes,” said Braga.

The master builders announced the program earlier in the week and they say they've already had interest in the grant program.

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