Doing something about the lack of skilled workers in construction

It’s the right time to learn a trade and get into construction. There is no doubt about it. The industry is hurting for skilled workers. Employers are willing to pay more than ever to get them. Being a plumber, an electrician or carpenter will give you excellent pay. If you are part of a union, the pay is even better (20% better according to January statistics from the US bureau of labor).

Construction careers not popular

Sound like a good idea for a career? Maybe to people of my age, but apparently not so much to people of the younger generation. They were drilled into thinking that a college education was a prerequisite to a good-paying job and that manual labour was not the way to go. While it’s true that many manual-labour jobs in manufacturing and other sectors moved offshore or became automated, they haven’t disappeared either. Not the ones requiring skills and judgement. We are nowhere near automation of the construction industry. Automated residential construction? Excluding prefabricated house construction in factory conditions, I would bet that the construction trades are still an entire career away from being replaced by robots and/or 3D printing. It isn’t said enough: a trade school or apprenticeship program is also a path to a great job.

Skilled workers for your business

Now let’s look at it from the employer’s point of view. If your business is lacking specialized tradesmen, are you talking to your industry associations? Can they help you set up an apprenticeship program? Did you know The US department of labor recently announced additional funding to national organizations to start or scale such programs? ApprenticeshipUSA is awarding industry intermediary contracts to “meet the occupational and skill needs” in various industries. The deadline for proposals is July 26th 2016, so better talk to your industry association soon.

Are you talking to the vocational schools in your area? Be vocal about your needs. If you are not the only one raising these points, it could help motivate the schools to try new tactics to get new students. What about talking to other local construction players or your chamber of commerce, to fund a vocational school’s marketing? Are you involved at your local school board? What about setting up a meeting with them, explaining the situation and the real opportunities that could be available to students. Would they be willing to have you do a conference or a school outing to one of your sites?

These are just a few ideas. There are surely many others.


Maybe the changes needed to create these fulfilling careers should come from the industry itself. Government programs alone can’t help bring in those skilled workers in sufficient amounts. And trying to do something feels better than just worrying about the future.

Triforce Education

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