As many know, many industries are experiencing a severe labor shortage of skilled workers. When looking at this skilled trades gap, the construction industry is no exception. According to Globe St, “A recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79% of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by .5% annually for the next 10 years. That is hardly enough to make up for the 600,000 jobs lost since the last recession.”. What caused this shortage and how can the industry recover?
The Recession is Just the Beginning
The recession was the tipping point of the labor shortage in the construction industry, but that isn’t the only explanation. Although we lost 600,000 jobs when our economy collapsed, this severe gap was inevitable given our current climate and attitude towards the trades. Over the past few decades, our society has seen a shift away from educating our students in the skilled trades industry. We have directed high school graduates into 4 year colleges- focusing on tech, business or other more “worthy” career paths. But that fact remains that we need the skilled trades. Without them, our economy collapses because houses can not be built, plumbing cannot be installed, and we don’t have licensed electricians.
What Can We Do About it?
A change of attitude is needed. The skilled trades are not a career path to be looked down upon, but rather a necessary and vital part of any society. Plus, the money isn’t bad either! High school counselors must present all options to high school graduates who are deciding their path after high school. Internships, trade schools and apprenticeships are all excellent options to test their skills and hone in on their passions. In addition to the labor pool of Gen Z and recent high school graduates, Veterans are also an excellent choice to fill these vacancies. Some veterans are already having a hard time re-establishing a career path after leaving the military, but given the large number of workers needed, it seems like a good fit for both parties. Plus, a lot of Veterans already have the necessary skill sets that are required for the skilled trades. Additional training may be needed in specific fields, but if there are incentive programs in place- it seems like a no-brainer.
Big Businesses Have to Do Their Part
We cannot solely rely on high school counselors or students to enter the skilled trades of their own volition, big businesses have to play their part too. By offering scholarships, internships and incentivized training with the promise of a career after graduation, big businesses can help fill these gaps with quality workers. There couldn’t be a better situation than to help train their own future employees exactly how they want and incentivize them to stick around to keep the industry going strong.
The skilled trades gap is definitely a concern that should be on the mind of every American. If we as a society do not make the necessary shifts and take appropriate action to remediate the situation, we are all in trouble. Our society cannot function without the backbone of the skilled trades force.