Q: What can we do to motivate people to go into the trades?
A: It is all about education.
Recently, the Associated General Contractors of Oregon Columbia Chapter’s Mike Salsgiver stated that “Working as a commercial contractor is not just a job but a career you can support a family through your entire career in this industry”. The income numbers prove this to be true.
On average a construction worker made $51,600 in 2013 (State of Oregon). That is 16% more that the state-wide average for private sector jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, carpenters, drywall installers, equipment operators, iron workers, welders, drivers, masons, plus many others are all needed.
Economics is all about supply and demand. If you look over the next 10 years scarcity of tradesmen is apparent. Retirements will be a key contributor. For every new employee in our workforce…. four will be leaving. To me, this is real simple. More income.
If you really think about it, follow the money. Money will need to flow to qualified workers. If there is a shortage of workers more wages will be offered. More management opportunities will be provided.
The key is first to understand the opportunity then learn how to benefit from it.
In Clark County, The Clark County Skills Center and Clark College are good sources for learning. Union Halls are another good source. Other sources can be found by some very basic research. A simple one is calling construction companies and asking where training or apprentice programs are offered. Talk to the workers. Any jobsite or roadside construction will have workers that will be willing to help.
I think the most helpful way is make working in the trades hip. Most of the education and parental guidance over the last 30 or 40 years has been geared for a 4 year college education. Maybe it is time to talk up the benefits of working in the trades.
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