Lawton Needs More Skilled Trades Workers
I know we've talked about this concern a few times over the years, but things don't seem to have changed much in that time. It was about twenty years ago that a plucky reality TV host named Mike Rowe wrote an essay about the looming skills gap in America. As more and more older workers started to retire out of their skilled trade jobs, there haven't been enough young workers looking to replace them. This is what created the gap.
I remember what it was like coming out of high school around the turn of the century. Everyone surrounding me... teachers, parents, friends, society, higher learning institutions, the media, etc was saying "You're nothing without a college education" among things like "Only college graduates make good money" things like that. The pressure was on and the thought of going to college was ingrained so deeply in our youth, there was no other option.
Skip forward some twenty years and there aren't enough workers in the skilled trades across America to keep up with the demand of those jobs.
Example: My sewer line collapsed four weeks ago. It took ten days to get someone out to run a camera down the line just to find the problem. The repair has been pushed off twice now by the plumbers due to short staffing, and I've been doing my business in a bucket for nearly a month. The skills gap is real.
Example 2: When I bought my home five years ago, I needed some light electrical work done that I couldn't do myself. I needed to add a dedicated circuit to my living room since I had so much entertainment equipment back then. Every electrician was give-or-take three weeks out on being able to do that work.
The few workers that are employed in these skilled trade fields are at a point now where they're worked hard for long hours every day because there's no one else looking to join those teams. At least not like there were in the past.
The plumber and I had this conversation while he was pushing a camera down my sewer a few weeks ago. While he didn't just come out and say it, he alluded that the starting pay, at least in his chosen trade, wasn't exactly an attractive number. Granted, like most positions, you start at the bottom and eventually work your way up. Instead of a masters degree, tradesmen ear journeyman licenses, and that's where the good money is earned for top skills.
The slight being, most people don't want to work for that lower pay for the few years it takes to make journeyman status. We're a nation of instant gratification, we want it now. Just look at the grapevine. How many posts do you see on there of people looking for $15+/hour skill-less jobs with hours that fit their social schedule?
I can't help but think, if I had a guidance counselor back in high school that told me I could eventually make six figures running wire or snaking pipes, I might have hopped right into a trade straight out of school and went to making the good money a lot earlier in my life.
If it takes a month to replace twelve feet of PVC pipe, there's a definite demand for skilled workers. If your kid is getting ready to graduate or is eligible to take advantage of the vo-tech opportunities afforded high school students, it might be fair to mention the skilled trades to them.