Monday 18 February 2019

America's Skilled Trades Dilemma

Posted at 1:34 PM

During any type of weather event - a spring storm causes heavy rains, hail, fallen trees, or the frigid temperatures of winter causing pipes to freeze or burst, we all know that can be overwhelming.

A lack of tradespeople is going to create an even bigger task for contractors as well as property owners. That leaking roof, flooded basement, HVAC or plumbing repairs or a home remodel project is becoming more challenging. When you do find a qualified contractor is likely to cost more and take longer to complete because of a widespread shortage of skilled tradespeople.

"Skilled trades" refers to a number of occupations which require specific hands-on skills, such as machinists, welders, plumbers, and electricians. These occupations are a critical part of the nation's workforce, and play key roles in the fields of manufacturing, construction, and repair.

There's a growing concern that, as the baby-boom generation of skilled-trade workers approaches retirement, there aren’t enough younger workers trained to replace them. This leads to a large factor in the shortage of workers in the skilled trades: educational focus.

The elimination of shop class in high schools played a big role. For many students, this was their first exposure to the kind of hands-on experience that could ignite a career in a trade. Removing the shop and mechanical classes from the high school curriculum has cut-off that pipeline from the school to the industry.

Regardless, it is important to remember that a 4-year university isn't the best fit for every student, and that vocational schools can offer students valuable skills which can result in immediate employment.

While there may not be a perfect path to helping todays, youth see the benefits of pursuing a career in the trades, there are things that we can to improve the way the industry is perceived.

Below are just a few:

  • As a society, acknowledge that tradespeople are critical for economic growth and play a huge role in American society.
  • Recognize and communicate that there are great career advancement opportunities within the construction industry.
  • Improve marketing strategy and content on advertisements, online, and social media to be more attractive.
  • Promote the great entrepreneurial opportunities that live within the construction industry.
  • Provide more trade specific education through high schools and introduce trades at a younger age.
  • Teach our youth the find joy in working hard and creating something tangible.
  • Show more success stories about people that have had a great career as a tradesperson.
  • Showcase the fact that tradespeople have the opportunity to make great money if they are willing to work hard.

As someone who loves this industry, I would love to hear from you. What are some of the reasons you can think of why young people are not considering a trade and what do you think we can do better, as individuals and an industry to change the perception and do a better job of educating and attracting potential job seekers?