For years, we’ve been hearing about the critical labor shortage in the skilled trades industry. It may go from critical to crippling without innovative, proactive solutions. Training the next generation is the key. With an aging workforce and historically low unemployment, they are the future of the industry. The time to engage and train them is now.

Training the Next Generation: Start By Retraining Our Thinking

A generation ago, when Millennials were entering the workforce, they were significantly underestimated. Seen as entitled, spoiled, everyone-gets-a-trophy “children” who can’t get off their phones or move out of their parents’ houses, many considered them “lazy” or “dependent on technology.” Not a great fit for the skilled trades industry!

labor gap

That was a mistake, and we’re looking at the consequences now. In Indiana, 72% of contractors have difficulty filling some or all open positions with skilled trade workers, and 83% say they want to hire even more people because business is surging. Nationwide, we expect 225,000 construction trade job vacancies each year until at least 2026.

This means we’re turning down projects, losing or cancelling sales, and accepting new orders on longer timelines.

The skilled trades field cannot afford to make the same error in judgement about Gen Z. If we can’t change the way we think about training and develop methods to nurture their interest in the trades, then we’ll waste their talent. And we’ll cripple an industry.

Building the Workforce of Tomorrow — Today

But it’s not all doom and gloom! The good news is that savvy companies, schools, cities, and organizations are implementing innovative programs to train the next generation of skilled trades workers. To highlight a few:

Women in Skilled Trades

Women make up nearly half (47%) of the US workforce, but they are only about 5% of the construction workforce. 72 million women are working or looking for work. Gen Z women in particular are looking for professional growth and flexibility in their careers. Why let these talented, motivated, hard-working people pass you by?

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) was founded by sixteen women working in the construction industry in 1953. Knowing that women represented only a small fraction of the construction industry, the founders organized NAWIC to create a support network. Today, NAWIC provides its members with opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, public service and more.

Next Level Jobs (Indiana)

The state is taking decisive action to fill high-paying jobs for in-demand industries. The Next Level Jobs initiative provides Hoosiers with free state-wide training in these fields (including, of course, construction and building). Employers can also get reimbursed up to $50,000 to train their own employees.

Grants in Indiana

Indiana has also secured grant funding that they’re using to fuel various programs, such as:

  • Indiana Plan. This promotes apprenticeships to diverse groups, particularly minorities and women, and provides hands-on training.
  • The Vincennes University/ABC Construction Prep Academy. This venture is designed for high school juniors and seniors who want to jump start their career in skilled trades. They also work with employers to recruit apprentices.
  • Fort Wayne Urban League. Their BUILD program is geared towards helping women and minorities gain nationally-recognized certifications in the construction field and obtain apprenticeships. It has a tremendous job placement rate.
  • Indiana Careers in Construction Association. This initiative appeals to people who may have never considered a career in the skilled trades. It gives them a “point of entry” for various Indiana apprenticeship programs.

Hub & Spoke

One factor in the skilled trades labor shortage is lack of awareness and exposure. Students may not be encouraged to explore pursuits off the four-year college track as they go through primary and secondary school.

Hub & Spoke delivers opportunities for students to look into the trades — and ignite the spark of curiosity, interest, and possibility. These are viable careers. These are well-paying careers. These are careers that allow for continual education and advancement. And if college is a good fit for students, why shouldn’t they explore construction management, engineering, or architectural design?

 

By providing exposure, education, a hands-on learning experience, and opportunities to interact with other students, apprentices, and professionals, Hub & Spoke is actively working to fill the gaps in skilled trades talent now and in the future.

Together, the industry is making strides. By focusing on training the next generation, we can accelerate the pace at which we fill jobs and create a diverse and strong pipeline of skilled trade talent.

Learn how you can get involved at Hub & Spoke to help make the greatest impact towards overcoming the skilled labor gap.

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