There has been a real crisis brewing in manufacturing, construction, and other skilled labor-related jobs in America—a shrinking supply of skilled workers to fill open positions. This labor shortage has been well-documented throughout the country as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the nation’s need for workers in the skilled trades increases much faster than the growth of employment overall.
In a media interview, Gad Levanon, vice president of labor markets at The Conference Board, a nonprofit business research group, commented on the shortage, attributing it to a result of long-run demographic and educational trends that have converged in a perfect storm, possibly making the impact even more severe in the future. “These shortages are a much more immediate and important problem than the risk of massive unemployment due to robots taking our jobs at some point in the future,” he said.
What are these factors? Four main drivers have contributed to the decline of a healthy pipeline of talent in skilled labor roles.
1. Baby Boomers Exiting the Workforce
The blue-collar generation is retiring out of the workforce, but no one is eager to take their spot. The surge of retiring Baby Boomers will continue through 2030, meaning the potential shortage of workers will steadily climb and then sharply increase after that date.
2. Schools Pushing Students to Four-Year Degrees
With an influx of technology related jobs and the societal pressure on attaining a degree, educational systems have actively phased out vocational schools and instead have pushed students to enroll in four-year colleges. While many students opt for bachelor’s degrees over apprenticeships, well paid skilled labor jobs sit vacant.
3. Economic Backbone of America is Shifting
With companies finding it difficult to fill skilled labor positions, they are forced to do one of few things: pay higher wages, hire outside of the United States, or move operations overseas. In doing this, the U.S. is lowering its GDP, its ability to manufacture domestically, and ultimately its inability to compete.
4. Awareness of Opportunities and Growth
While schools have long been pushing their students to career paths outside of skilled trades, misconceptions about tradespeople’s career paths persist. With increasing opportunities and the influx of digitization in many manufacturing roles, skilled labor workers can enjoy adequate job security, management responsibilities, and demand a hefty salary as they move up in their career—but most are unaware of these benefits. A welders average pay for example is $17.90/hr, but can go up to $35.45/hr based on experience.
For companies that rely on skilled tradespeople, ahead lies the challenges of attracting, educating, training, and filling their talent pipeline. Employers grappling with this problem have crafted creative solutions that address their needs. Many have turned to on-the-job training, in-house apprenticeship programs, contingent, and on-demand workforce arrangements, and training programs for jobs in dire need of workers.
Recognizing this nationwide shortage of skilled tradespeople, NSC developed a program to equip people with the skills they–and your business–need to succeed. To address the challenge, NSC provides free training in Salinas, Puerto Rico, in the trades of welding, steel fabrication, pipefitting, pipe insulation, and other mechanical trades–and deploys associates to work at locations where their specialized skill sets are in high demand.
Interested in learning more about our program? Feel free to reach out.