Leaders in manufacturing, distribution, and commercial and residential services are calling for an industry-wide focus on workforce development. They believe that there are overlooked opportunities within the workforce and that recruiting a new generation of young workers and closing the skilled trades labor gap maybe help ease disruption across the industry.
“For young people who are seeking a rewarding career but don’t feel like four years of college is the best choice for them, there are some tremendous advantages to seeking a career in the traditional skilled trades,” said Carl Pinto Jr., senior director of marketing communications, Bradford White Corporation. “Unfortunately, many high school students and recent graduates who would thrive in our industry never consider a career in the trades. This is due in part to the overwhelming message that is being delivered through a variety of channels – college is the only path to success.”
The global COVID-19 pandemic may be causing this belief to shift, however, especially as many manufacturers and contractors have been labeled as essential workers.
Others share Pinto’s concerns, including Representative Tim Walberg of Michigan. “Everyone has a sweet spot in life and a unique path toward finding the career that best suits them. For some people this might mean pursuing a four-year degree, while for others an apprenticeship might be the answer. Whatever that path may be, it is critical that we look for innovative ways to provide educational opportunities for America’s workers and ensure our workforce is prepared for the good-paying jobs of the 21st century.”
The American Supply Association is a trade association that represents distributors and manufacturers. They claim that only 4% of the workforce in manufacturing and distribution are under 26, while half or more are nearing retirement. The young age of the industry does provide opportunities for ambitious workers to fast track their careers.
With that in mind, both the ASA and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCCNA)have an online library of tools and strategies to help young workers in the industry. This library also provides a plethora of ideas to help contractors attract and train new employees.
To see the PHCCNA’s Workforce Development Center go here.
For more information on the ASA’s resources, go here.