Skilled Trades

America Needs Skilled Workers

Skilled TradesJune 08, 2018

President Trump has proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild America’s old, sometimes crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. The plan faces a number of questions…among them: Does the U.S. have an adequate skilled labor force that can carry out such a massive project?

Depending upon who you talk to, many people believe that America’s skilled labor pool is aging and struggling to meet current demand – much less a major project such as this. And, these people say, it’s becoming more difficult to find young people willing to embrace skilled trade careers instead of going to a four-year college. On the other hand, trade unions say they’ve always been able to meet demand when “the work is coming in,” so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same now.

The fact is, two national surveys by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) over the past three years revealed contractor are having trouble filling jobs. In some cases, contractors aren’t even bidding on certain projects because they don’t have the workers to perform all the jobs that might be needed.

“We do have some significant shortages,” an AGCA spokesman admits. While the infrastructure plan is a positive for contractors, the spokesman believes some intensive worker training also needs to be included in that plan. 

Richard Barcaskey, executive director of the Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania, believes the industry has a communication problem when approaching young students – many of whose parents feel those who go into technical fields do so because they can’t cut college. Barcaskey says the conversation needs to focus instead on “strong middle-class wages, lack of years of college debt and, in some cases, paid training.”

Within six months, many skilled workers can afford new cars or trucks – “Not many friends who got to college can say that,” Barcaskey notes.

America has a skilled trades worker shortage. Those interested in well-paying jobs that won’t be transferred overseas and who are suited for working with their hands and brains, may want to explore a career in skilled trades…whether as an HVAC technician, electrical worker, welder or in construction management. For those who do, Fortis offers the education and training they may need at several campuses across the country. Visit our Skilled Trades page to learn more about the program that’s most suited to you and where it’s offered.