Ryan Tracy 2014-08-28 06:39:01
NOW HIRING The trade industries are experiencing too much of a good thing: too many jobs but not enough people to do them. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy plowed into the East Coast of the United States, doing billions of dollars in damage to property and infrastructure. Streets were flooded, subway tunnels were filled with water and millions of people lost electricity. Nearly a month later, thousands were still without power, and it wasn’t because there was a shortage of parts or materials for repairs. It was because there was a shortage of electricians. In truth, Hurricane Sandy simply shined a temporary spotlight on a much larger, more long term problem. Now that the construction industry seems to have regained its footing at the tail end of the Great Recession, a challenging reality has become clear: There simply aren’t enough tradespeople to do all the work that is needed.Worse, the number of potential candidates being trained are few and far between. Whether you are looking to hire an electrician, a plumber, an HVAC pro or any other type of trained, hands-on technician, the pickings are slim—and the future looks frustrating, to say the least. Not A Surprise Soothsayers from the business world have had an eye on the trade industries for more than a decade. Look back 10 years, and you will find the first predictions of this shortage. According to construction-industry pundits, there simply was not going to be enough young blood coming into the trades to replace the old guard (including baby boomers) as they reached retirement age.The warnings were conservative, though. There was no need to panic. Fast-forward to 2008, and the housing bubble burst, even as much of the global economy tanked. The result was a devastating one-two punch to the trade industries.First, tens of thousands of tradespeople grew tired of looking for work and changed professions altogether. Second, those who remained in the trades focused their attention (understandably) on getting through a tough time rather than recruiting more help. By the time the economy began to show new life, the damage was done, and the new reality of the trade industries looked something like this: not enough trained workers; nobody to take over for retiring owners and managers; no interest from young people who had spent four or five years looking elsewhere for employment. Now the trade industries are at a crossroads: Continue to ignore the coming drought or approach the problem head on. Time To Roll Up Our Sleeves According to eplumbingcourses.com, the lack of plumbing professionals is actually becoming an impediment to the overall economic recovery.After all, the article says, if builders are slowed by a labor shortage, costs will inevitably go up—a weight on an economy that is still struggling to stay above water. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in specialty trade contracting increased by 128,000 since September of 2012.With regard to HVAC, the BLS is estimating near-Ly a 34 percent increase in demand for mechanics and installers between 2010 and 2020. In addition, the BLS predicts that the need for electrical workers will rise to more than 734,000 as soon as 2014—a figure that exceeds the current number of electricians by more than 75,000 workers! According to E. Milner Irvin, president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), “The predicted shortfall of electricians in the U.S. won’t be just the industry’s problem.Shortages affect all businesses up and down the line, by generally driving up the cost, and driving down the quality, of any product or service.” In other words, the time is now for trade industries to take an active role in revitalizing the health and prosperity of their own future. Some contractors are already taking action, offering in house apprenticeship programs and participating in educational opportunities for prospective hires. But according to Tom Rosendahl, president of DSG, there is a need for even more fundamental change in the world of the trade industries.“We need to make sure that there are good jobs that people want,” he says. “We need competitive compensation and good benefits. We need to provide our employees with continued opportunities for growth. We need to show young people that there is a bright future in the trade industries.” He also suggests a grassroots approach to recruitment.“Tell the young people in your life— whether they are boys or girls—that your job is a good job,” he says. “Better yet, show them. Encourage them. Everyone finds inspiration someplace, and our customers do very important jobs.More people need to know that.” Now For Some Good News If there is a silver lining in this predicament, it’s that the trade industries cannot be outsourced.New houses and new commercial buildings will always need plumbers, HVAC techs and electricians to make them inhabitable. As long as there is growth in the world, there will be growth in the trades. That’s obviously good news for those who work in and serve the trades. However, the fact that there is no “Plan B” makes the future even more important. It’s up to the trades themselves to ensure that they recover along with the economy, serving as an engine for growth rather than a drag on the system. “This is a huge opportunity,” says Rosendahl.“How many of us can say that our jobs are so important that there literally aren’t enough people around to do them? It’s a great feeling, but it’s not something we can simply sit around and enjoy.Instead, it’s a chance for us to ensure some exciting possibilities for our kids and grand kids.” Rosendahl encourages a big-picture view of the situation, a perspective that calls for immediate action. “It’s time to address this right now.Even if we start encouraging and training and educating new tradespeople today, they won’t be ready to go to work for a few years—and they won’t be ready to take over for a few years after that. To keep the trades healthy for tomorrow, they need a shot in the arm today.” Sources: http://www.achrnews.com/articles/123311-hvac-offers-numerous-career-paths http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/15760/poll-skilled-trades-rank-low-in-teens’-career-options http://stevemaxwell.ca/time-to-make-the-trades-and-tradesmen-cool/ https://www.facebook.com/nationaltradesmenday http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/massive-shortage-of-electricians-predicted-for-us-59318327.html http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/rockaway-electricians-article-1.1205288 http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/remodelers-report-labor-shortages/ http://blogs.wsj.com/davos/2013/01/24/in-u-s-science-majors-and-plumbers-in-short-supply/ http://www.eplumbingcourses.com/shortage-of-construction-workers-hurts-homebuilders/ml.
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