It almost seems impossible to admit this - seeing as skilled laborers are the folks who built our country - but the U.S. is facing an incredible decline in skilled labor over the next few years, at the exact time when demand is expected to reach its peak.
There are many reasons and theories behind the decline in skilled labors - the push (in high schools) toward conventional 4-year careers; a misconception associated with “skilled labor”; the recent recession forcing folks out of their skilled labor profession; baby boomers reaching the age of retirement - but regardless of the reasons, this labor shortage poses both consequence as well as opportunities.
According to a 2015 report by the Manufacturing Institute, titled The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond,the main problem manufacturers and construction companies face is meeting with customer demand. The lack of skilled laborers prevents companies in these industries from keeping up with the needs and wants of their own customers.
That same report projects that 3.4 million manufacturing jobs are likely to be needed over the next decade. Of those jobs, an unbelievable 2 millionare expected to go unfilled, furthering the current skills gap.
With unfilled skilled trades, companies can’t grow.
The interesting thing is, there is no shortage of people out there who are capableof filling these in-demand jobs in fields such as welding, There’s just a shortage of people willingto do them.
Most of that, again, has to do with misconceptions of what a career in skilled labor looks like. Folks like Mike Rowe have graciously done their part to promote this type of work and emphasize the importance of skilled labor to our future.
But Rowe isn’t alone. Articles like Why Skilled Workers Will Own the Future are abound online. In that article, in particular, Patricia Milligan, President of Human Capital at Mercer, explains our current climate perfectly:
“Never before has keeping the right people and finding them been as high on the agendas of great companies as it is today,” she said. She goes on to say that skilled laborers “with the right skills around the world are going to own their own futures.”
Politics aside, President Donald Trump’s public stance on manufacturing aims to add even moredemand to this field On Jan. 27, 2017, he formally announced the launch of his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, which has attracted successful business leaders including Elon Musk of Tesla, Mark Fields of Ford, Mario Longi of U.S. Steel and many more.
The purpose of this initiative is for Trump’s administration to reach out and learn from global business leaders on how best to promote job growth in the manufacturing sector. His campaign promises related to rebuilding America’ infrastructure certainly are a solid start.
His proposal to spend up to $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next decade could create more than 11 million jobs, as reported by Bloomberg BNA.
According to Anthony Carnevale, Director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, this boom would help reverse a decades-long trend in which workers have been left behind as the U.S. transitioned from a blue-collar manufacturing economy to a high-tech service one.
Carnevale helped craft a report on Trump’s infrastructure plan, in which it’s noted that for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree, infrastructure jobs tend to have higher median wages than other jobs.
But, of course, Carnevale brings it all back to the skills gap.
“Unless there’s a deliberate effort to make sure we skill up for this, we’re going to run into problems,” he told Bloomberg.
In other words, the demand is inevitable; the only thing in question is will there be enough workers to fill the demand?
To anyone looking to create a secure, and rewarding career, this should be music to their ears. With the amount of money likely to be invested in infrastructure over the next decade and beyond - combined with a current decline in workers - a job in skilled labor could prove to be the smartest decision you make.