There are so many opportunities within the skilled trades. They are not like the trades of yesteryear that parents may remember. For that reason, many parents need to be informed and educated on the fact that today’s technology enables people to go in so many different career directions in the skilled trades.
Technology has become a game changer. New software and new hardware allow companies and their workers to innovate and improve upon delivering things on time. The push for more prefabrication and modularization combined with technology make these especially exciting times for the trades.
However, the shortage of skilled labor points up the importance of getting young people interested in considering employment in the trades.
Two practical steps companies can take to combat the skilled labor shortage include:
- Be more inclusive and diverse. Companies need to do whatever they can to make the industry more welcoming. Company culture has become more important than ever.
- Get word out to youth about how great it is to work in the industry, especially the potential for earnings. Introduce them to hands-on experiences. Very few have shop class anymore in high school to show them their career options. It is incumbent on people within the trades to tell their story. Otherwise the skilled trades are still not on many people’s radar when it comes to attractive career options.
One example of getting the word out is the free summer camp being offered across the U.S. for sophomores, juniors and seniors: “Heavy Metal Summer Experience” (HMSE). The camp experience grew from a couple dozen students its first year to 180 students during its second year.
Now an incorporated nonprofit organization, the HMSE camp provides a mixture of classroom and shop experiences. Students can gain exposure to all aspects of construction, from building information modeling (BIM) through fabrication and installation. Working craft professionals teach during the camp and share their career paths and advice. Other partners in the effort include vendors who donate tools and personal protective equipment, plus contractors that open their shops and facilities to host a camp and introduce students to the building trades.
In addition to high school students, HMSE introduces recent graduates up to age 19 to careers in the building trades. Through hands-on projects, camp attendees are introduced to living-wage careers in the building trades. They also discover skills-based apprenticeship training opportunities. Working alongside craft professionals, the students discover that apprenticeships are a productive alternative to attending college.
The HMSE mission is to create workforce diversity and entice the next generation of craft workers to the skilled trades. Check out the website at www.hmse.org for more information.
Tune in to episode 148 of Bridging the Gap Podcast as popular return guest Angie Simon describes the Heavy Metal Summer Experience and explains how and why it is attracting talent to the skilled trades.