Local contractor Nick Portnoy went into the profession after learning carpentry working in the theater in college, but he has found a lack of skilled tradesmen available in the Boston area.
Portnoy was recently featured in a story in This Old House Magazine about the next generation of tradesmen and women. As general contractor and owner of Nick Portnoy Builders, he looks for plumbers, electricians, painters, tilers and HVAC installers.
He said the economic downturn forced many in the trades out of the business, but now that the industry has picked up again the people in the trades have not returned.
“I have been in the business since 2007. In 2010, when I put an ad on Craigslist I would get 50 responses,” Portnoy said. “When I put an ad in now I get two or three. It’s that bad.”
Portnoy said there should be more ways to get into the trades. The Watertown High School graduate first worked in carpentry at the University of Southern California. Originally, he planned on working in film production, but he decided L.A. was not the place for him.
“I did a work-study at the campus theater. There were always small carpentry projects that needed doing,” Portnoy said. “The summer after freshman year I got a job as a carpenter’s helper. After that I focused in on (carpentry).”
While there are options for high school students – such as vocational schools – there are few training schools for others, and those that are available are not cheap.
“If there were more accessible options it would be a huge help,” Portnoy said.