There has been much discussion about the skilled labor gap in this country. Many workers in the skilled trades are baby boomers who are retiring now and will continue. There are many misperceptions regarding the skilled trades which is why younger people have been discouraged from going into them.
What are skilled trade jobs?
Skilled trade jobs require a certain degree of skill and training, but not a 4-year college degree. Many skilled trade jobs involve hands-on work and technological expertise. Some skilled trade jobs often require certification as well. 1 Below are a few examples of common skilled trades jobs:
- Welder: Welders join metal through a type of heating process. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams of metal products. Welders are needed in many industries and, welders with up-to-date welding training many increase their job opportunities. 2
- Electrician: Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories. The job outlook for this career has a projected job growth of 14% which is higher than average. Many employers prefer those with some formal electrician training, so, those who do many fare better. 3
- Pipefitter: Pipefitters install and repair pipes that are used to transport liquids or gases. Job growth for pipefitters is expected to be faster than average, particularly as building construction is ramping up. Yet, some employers report difficulty finding qualified candidates, so applicants with pipefitter training likely have a competitive edge. 4
- HVAC/R technician: HVAC/R techs work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems to ensure temperature, humidity and air quality control. Job growth has a projected rate rate of 14%, which is much higher than average. Candidates with HVAC/R training, especially those with troubleshooting and computer skills, have the best job opportunities. 5
Opportunities for millennials
Getting trained in the skilled trades is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to going to college and a way to make a good wage. 6 It often costs much less to pursue skilled trades training than a 4-year college degree, and some skilled trade jobs pay more than white-collar jobs.
Trade school offers plenty of advantages for millennials for whom college is not the most appealing choice. The benefits of attending trade school include:
- Career-specific training
- Focus on hands-on and experimental learning
- Smaller class sizes
- Industry partnerships
- 95% of trade school certificates can be obtained in less than 2 years
- Over 50% can be completed in under 1 year
- Around 60% of students succeed at earning a certificate
- Average trade school degree costs about ¼ of the average 4-year degree
- 1 in 3 trade school grads will get another degree or certificate
Some industry experts predict the skilled trades worker shortage will continue, and younger workers will need to fill those positions as older workers retire. There are many careers in the skilled trades that have a lot to offer for young people looking to make a decent living and amassing less debt.
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1 – http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-skilled-labor-10636.html
2 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm
3 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/electricians.htm
4 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/plumbers-pipefitters-and-steamfitters.htm
5 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm
6 – http://www.npr.org/2015/02/02/383335110/economists-say-millennials-should-consider-careers-in-trades