Need for maintenance workers grows as Nebraska continues to build apartment complexes

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – If you live in an apartment complex or multi-family unit and an appliance breaks down, or your HVAC shuts down, you’re probably going to call your facility’s maintenance team.

But these days, those workers are hard to find.

“The need is greater than ever,” says Rhonda Pederson, executive director of the Nebraska Apartment Association.

Part of the problem is the number of apartment complexes growing across the state, but Pederson says they’re needed.

“Last year when we spoke, we talked about needing about 2,000 units to come online every year just to keep up with the demand, and I think that number is actually low, I think if we were looking for about 3,000 units in the state to come online every year, I think they could easily be absorbed.

With these complexes comes the need for employees to help manage them.

“Most apartment communities are looking for rental staff, property managers, area managers, and of course maintenance technicians and maintenance supervisors right now,” she says. “One thing I continually heard from our members was the need that we just need trained maintenance technicians on board.”

“Right now there are enough openings, positions, vacancies for service technicians for existing complexes, so as new ones come up, we don’t have enough technicians to fill the need. “says Chuck Ketchum, who served as a multi-family maintenance worker. since 25 years.

“Years ago I could turn around and run into a maintenance guy, now I can turn around and throw a rock and not hit a maintenance person,” adds Ketchum.

To combat the labor shortage, Pederson and Ketchum helped start the Nebraska Maintenance Academy.

“It’s a program designed to teach people the beginnings and basics of multi-family maintenance, your basic carpentry, electrical plumbing, HVAC, appliances, and upon completion of the program earn them a job. full-time for a long-term career,” Ketchum said.

The program lasts 12 weeks and costs a maximum of $4,500.

However, students have the opportunity to earn money while learning. In the morning, the students are in class with Ketchum. In the afternoons, they are on site with the resort maintainers to learn and help, and get paid for their work.

“We currently have a class about to graduate in the next two days, and everyone has a job offer. They all have jobs,” Ketchum says.

“I usually have about 15 to 20 apartment communities looking for graduates from our program, so we keep an ongoing waiting list,” says Pederson. “We’re also getting phone calls from non-members and then from people outside the multi-family industry, so hotels and corporate units are also looking for technology.”

“The need is great. I think if we had 100 applicants through the Nebraska Maintenance Academy program, we could easily help them find jobs in our state.