Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Shortage of Skilled Trades in the US

The Shortage of Skilled Trades in the US
Adam Immel

The expectations of the American youth have changed much since the days when industry thrived in the United States. Whether it was for better or for worse is debatable, but as the country transitioned from manufacturing to service based industries, the generations of people were further divided by changing labor expectations. The changes have led many to believe that the United States is experiencing a labor shortage, an insufficient amount of qualified workers, in the market of skilled trades. Because of this, many consumers are finding it much more difficult to find contractors that aren’t being replaced fast enough to accomodate for the wave of retiring baby boomers.

The decline in demand for such jobs is the change in expectations in career development that began in the 1970’s and 80’s. 40 years ago, the United States was a powerhouse economy that relied heavily on manufacturing. Since that period, economic decision making by manufacturers to produce overseas to lower the cost of production, as well as America’s fledgling effort to combat air pollution in the 1970’s, have sent those jobs out of country, taken by countries such as China that own a significantly lower minimum wage than the US, and have made less of an effort to mitigate air pollution from factories. Because of this, America has lost “some 7 million manufacturing jobs”, according to Forbes. While the same source argues that the US has “added some 53 million jobs in services”, the impact of the changes has been left on following generations. Millennials and Generation Z have been persistently advised that the best option towards finding reliable employment is through a four-year Bachelor’s Degree. These factors have all contributed to the steadily growing “skills gap” as the older generations tire from their laborious careers.

What makes this gap in demand for skilled trades surprising is the potential such a career provides for a lucrative career. According to an article by NPR, Pacific Northwest Ironworkers based in Seattle provides workers and opportunity to earn “$28.36 an hour, or more than $50,000 a year”, a wage that is commonplace in many similar careers. Besides this, the shallow belief that the only way to “make it” in life is via a traditional college continues, even with increasing average debt. Some may assume the youth are too afraid the get their hands dirty; others may argue ignorance and a lack of promoting the field are to blame. Regardless, this trend doesn’t appear to be improving; the outlook on the youth’s demand in skilled trades hasn’t shifted at all, and the proportion of skilled trade workers older than 45 in 2012 was 53 percent, according to EMSI, which is a significantly high proportion. With demand as low as it is currently among the younger generation, in 20 years the majority of current employees in the field will be retired, putting a strain on industries that many of American workers in service based industries take for granted. Somehow, new parents and school systems need to promote the promise that becoming a machinist, electrician, welder, or any similar career can provide and prevent more Americans from college debt and looming unemployment straight out of college. The opportunity is there if the youth are willing to put in the effort.

Works Cited
Wright, Joshua. “America's Skilled Trades Dilemma: Shortages Loom As Most-In-Demand Group Of Workers Ages.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 May 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/emsi/2013/03/07/americas-skilled-trades-dilemma-shortages-loom-as-most-in-demand-group-of-workers-ages/#2b0f15bd6397

Gross, Ashley, and Jon Marcus. “High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University.” NPR, NPR, 25 Apr. 2018, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/25/605092520/high-paying-trade-jobs-sit-empty-while-high-school-grads-line-up-for-university.

Krupnick, Matt. “After Decades of Pushing Bachelor's Degrees, U.S. Needs More Tradespeople.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 29 Aug. 2017, www.pbs.org/newshour/education/decades-pushing-bachelors-degrees-u-s-needs-tradespeople.

Worstall, Tim. “The U.S. Lost 7 Million Manufacturing Jobs--And Added 33 Million Higher-Paying Service Jobs.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 Oct. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/10/19/the-us-lost-7-million-manufacturing-jobs-and-added-33-million-higher-paying-service-jobs/#66e2a7b04a20.

14 comments:

  1. There is always a shifting demand for skills in the workforce but there is a large shortage of skilled trades in the United States. Many people believe that this is because of a labor shortage and an insufficient amount of qualified workers. According to the article, the trades are a very good way to make money and provide very well. The average wage for a skills worker is $28 an hour. In conclusion, the shortage of skilled trades in the U.S. has gone down because of the recent labor shortage and small number of qualified workers to fit that need.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I actually completely agree with your points. The U.S. has out of all countries in the world the highest amount of students going to college and also the highest percentage of underemployed but educated citizens. I think that a lot of America's you needs to realize that college isn't just the next step of life, it's an expensive investment with significant risk of not paying off, especially with majors that aren't in demand.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This totally makes sense. As more and more jobs in manufacturing get shipped overseas there are more skilled jobs that you need a college education for. I feel like it is harder and harder for people to get jobs that they can live off of. The manufacturing jobs that people used to have were not easy but you didn't need years of schooling to do or to learn the skill. However, now people need more education and are getting paid less than before. I can see how the switch to this new line of work or economy could be challenging for the people living in it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree that the the trades profession has been getting less attention every year. From what I've seen, there are more people going in to some sort of business major because everyone knows that its a growing field. If people realized the education benefits of the skilled trades, there wouldn't be a high demand for skilled trades. In the coming years schools, hopefully put more emphasis on the such jobs to guide kids to a successful career.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have always thought this to be an interesting point, escpecially with WCTC so near to us. Until very recently, I think that even Pewaukee High School had perpetuated the ideal of a 4 year university, but the new co op program and other shifts I believe that we are seeing a change towards encouraging the best path for everyone, even if it is not 4 more years of school and lots of debt.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is pretty interesting point because it is crazy that there are so many trade jobs out there. It seems like a lot of people's plan out of high school is to go to a 4 year school. This makes the labor force for trade job pretty smalls but it does help increase the wages for them. The companies are trying to make the jobs look more appealing and raised the wages.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a good point to make especially do to our upcoming graduation and the fact that more and more people are attending a four year college after high school. It is very interesting to see how social teds such as preference of education and work can have such a large affect on the economy of a nation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's surprising how much jobs have changed in the last few decades. I agree with you that the majority of society today believes a 4 year education at a university is the best possible path to take for their future. I wonder if changes in technology have also had an impact on this decline in skilled trades. If you think about it, there are a lot of automated systems today and robots are replacing many jobs. Today there are robots to weld things, machine parts and put things together, etc. Back then they didn't have this technology and many things in the industry world had to physically be done by hand. Maybe in the future to come skilled trades will be entirely automated, who knows.

    ReplyDelete
  9. There has been a serious change in job expectations over the past couple of years. I thought it was very interesting that you chose to write about this topic because it is something that is often looked over. Getting a college education today is something that Americans expect if you want to have a good paying job when you are older. But it makes sense because all of the advances in the United States economy are creating more and more skillful jobs that require people to have certain levels of education in order to participate in that occupation. Great article!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I found this very interesting. I was debating on going in to a trade because of this very reasoning. The education is cheep, and demand is high. Meaning that my explicit cost of college would vastly decrease. However, I like wearing suits so I will elect to go into a nine to five desk job, and a four year college instead.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think this is another good example of how the Baby Boomer era is affecting job markets overall, as a previous blog post had mentioned the lack of nurses. It seems that retiring Baby Boomers have left a significant gap in employment, which has led to increased wages and our current low unemployment rate. With the current demand, choosing a skilled trade over college may be the most practical choice for most.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I feel like that as we have gone through school, everyone has been pushing that we have to go to college to be successful, and completely ignore the trades. Sure, there are classes available in the high school where they teach some of the trades, but no one promotes going into trades like college. With this same mentality being forced into teens heads that they have to go to college to be successful, there will be less and less people going into trades out of high school, and could lead to a big economic problem in the future years.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have always thought this to be an interesting point, especially with WCTC so near to us. Until very recently, I think that even Pewaukee High School had perpetuated the ideal of a 4 year university, but the new co op program and other shifts I believe that we are seeing a change towards encouraging the best path for everyone, even if it is not 4 more years of school and lots of debt.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's a frightening dynamic to think of the United States as moving away from traditional manufacturing opportunities, but instead, it's moving toward the services industry, which I find very interesting. It's disappointing that a majority of the population accrues significant debt, but America is a land of opportunity, and with such a rich opportunity presenting itself, the free market will eventually stabilize.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...