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National News

Wednesday, 22 October, 2008 8:50 PM

Think Good Help is Hard to Find Now? Think again.

Angie’s List poll shows building trades already suffering from graying workforce; worst yet to come

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Skilled trade workers


In three years, the first of the baby boomers – the largest workforce in U.S. history – will retire. With a shortage of workers to replace them, this poses a serious challenge to employers, particularly in the skilled trades industry.

An important factor not to be overlooked, however, is what that shortage is going to mean to homeowners long used to being able to get a qualified plumber, electrician or other skilled trade professional at a moment’s notice.

“Our most highly rated service companies are finding it difficult to get young people in to replace their veteran workers and nearly one in four of them plan to sell their business or close up shop when they reach retirement age,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer ratings on local service contractors. “This is going to have a quick and significant effect on both availability and price of these professional services.”

Angie's List ( recently surveyed nearly 500 service companies across the country and asked business owners how they will cope with the graying workforce.

45 percent said there is a shortage of workers who want to enter their field
62 percent plan to pass costs on to consumers if they have to pay more to retain or train workers
32 percent are taking steps to prepare for a transition from a graying workforce to less experienced employees

More than 75 million babies were born between 1946 and 1964, making the baby boomer the largest generation in American history. The generation that followed, Generation X, includes about 46 million people, not nearly enough to fill the huge gap that will be left once baby boomers retire. Adding to the challenge is the fact that Gen-Xers were raised with an emphasis on moving into white collar, rather than blue collar, or skilled trades.

“We’re facing a shortage of workers in general, but an even greater shortage in skilled trades,” Hicks said. “While homeowners may find it harder to find available, reliable and high-quality help around the house for a time, the shortage offers a great opportunity to people nearly ready to enter the workforce.”

A recent global poll of business owners showed skilled trades at the top of the most-wanted list. The Angie’s List poll revealed a shared frustration amongst business owners in need of qualified candidates for jobs in the carpentry, electrical, masonry, plumbing and welding trades.

“Companies are encouraging their veteran workers to stay on past retirement. Others are encouraging apprenticeships and mentoring programs, where veteran workers train their replacements,” Hicks said.

Angie’s List recommends finding a contractor with whom you can build a long-term relationship.

Here are 6 tips for hiring a quality contractor:

  • Ask around. Ask neighbors and friends who have had work done for references. If you’re new in town, or don’t know anyone who has had similar projects done, check Angie’s List for references.
  • Do your research. Don’t just hire based on a conversation. Check the performance record of the contractor you plan to hire. If your contractor balks at providing references, move to the next one on your list.
  • Check references: Get names of previous customers and find out if they were pleased with the work and the timeline of the project, as well as if they’d hire the contractor again. Get the names of subcontractors and ask if they work with the contractor often and if the contractor pays on time.
  • Get contact info: Be cautious of contractors who give you a post office box with no street address, or use only an answering service.
  • Look into licensure: Some states or cities have no licensing requirements for contractors, which can make it difficult for homeowners to check up on contractors before they hire. Don’t rely on the contractor’s word to know whether his or her license is valid: check it out through the appropriate agency. Angie’s List members have access to a list of sites where you can check the licensure status of service providers. Check the status of the contractor’s bonding and liability insurance coverage too.
  • Know your payment options. Never pay for a project with cash; always use a credit card so you have recourse in case something goes wrong. Before you sign off and make the final payment, check that the work is complete.

*460 service companies responded to the survey. Responses are representative of service providers rated on Angie’s List, but not the general public.

Angie’s List is where thousands of consumers share their ratings and reviews on local contractors and companies in more than 340 different categories. Currently, more than 650,000 consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them find the right contractor or company for the job they need done. Members have unlimited access to the list via Internet or phone; receive the Angie’s List magazine, which includes articles on home improvement and maintenance, consumer trends and scam alerts; and they can utilize the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Get more information about Angie’s List at Read Angie’s blog at

Source: Angie's List



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Copyright © 2008 All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.