Skilled trades workers are needed in construction. A March 2023 article on reported the construction industry faces a shortage of 500,000 workers. When it comes to construction, as Construction Dive put it, it seems “people don’t want to work anymore.”

There are a few ways to build a greater pool of skilled trade workers.

One way to build the labor pool involves communicating to the public and changing people’s minds about craft careers being a “fall-back” option. They are much more than that.

Skilled trade jobs offer stable, sustainable, good paying careers with onsite learning. They involve challenges that can keep people motivated to steadily accomplish more. They can be life-changing opportunities providing career beginnings that can prepare workers to branch out to other, different experiences. People in the trades can have a fruitful career and be constantly challenged. For craft workers, work is a learning environment.

No matter their background, kids learn what they live. People, starting young, need something that energizes them. They need purpose, and many search for that. Careers in the construction industry can provide that. Construction has a great story to tell.

There has been a generational rise and fall of vocational (craft) work. Vocational training has declined over the decades. Careers working with wood, metals and electrical especially suffered when “shop” classes were eliminated from the high school curriculum across the country. However, parents and entire communities can take steps to reverse that trend and reintroduce the value and purpose around trades work. 

Another way to build the labor pool is for companies in the trades sector to expand their framework so they can bring in people who don’t exactly fit what they are looking for.

Many jobs can prepare people to transition to a job in the skilled trades. Potential employees with broader backgrounds can make them more impactful in the workplace. The search for workers needs to be cast wider to include people with a:

  • Good work ethic,
  • Curious nature,
  • Willingness to work every day,
  • Drive to work until the job is done,
  • Tendency to be energized by accomplishments.

Companies can certainly work with those character traits, mentor those people and build something from those beginnings.

To bring people into the trades, it’s important early on to focus on what younger generations are interested in. Construction owners and executives can be impactful in this process by suggesting to school boards that trades education should be reintroduced into schools. This could encourage students who want to work with their hands.

Citizens can support legislation that helps fund education in the community, especially education for trades. And there is a valid reason for that. Welders, electricians and certain other trades can get their education in a couple of years and be ready to start earning on day one, without the burden of paying back college loans. Instead of paying down an $80,000 loan, skilled trade workers can earn $80,000 in their first year of work.

Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 214 with guest James Chesnut "Changing Everyone's Mind About the Trades"
Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 214 with guest James Chesnut “Changing Everyone’s Mind About the Trades”

Tune in to episode 214 of Bridging the Gap Podcast with guest James Chestnut to hear more about changing people’s minds about the trades.


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