Addressing the Workforce Shortage Problem: “You Don't Have To Go To College!"

  • by Jeremy Atkinson
  • Blog

j atkinson blogThere’s a problem in our industry right now. We don’t have the labor or skilled force to do the work.

What we need to do is start reaching out to kids, to youth programs, to education systems, and help get out the message: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO COLLEGE.

Consider a career in construction. We’re not construction workers—we’re construction professionals! Think about our projects; to build something from the ground up or preserve a historic building, we’re handling millions and millions of dollars. That’s a professional right there.

We’re all scientists too at some level. We’re dealing with physics, math, geometry... and nowadays we’re dealing with psychology as well… “How do we get people to come to the table… to really buy-in to this project?”

And you don’t have to have a degree for any of that. Yes, you have to have some training, you have to have a passion… you’ve got to have a beginning drive to do meaningful work that you can build on with training.

Of course we want people to continue getting degrees; there’s still use for that, but not for every field or every person. Consider how effective a ‘college for everyone’ mentality is. College tuition is rising astronomically. Not only that, but nowadays, society is appropriately questioning whether the college model is even effective on the large scale for equipping people with marketable skills and knowledge so as to justify the expense. Enter the appeal of the skilled trades.

We need more carpenters, more electricians… and most electricians make more money than college graduates starting out! From electrical trades to iron work, to floor and wall trades, to cabinetry, there’s tons of variety to explore. There’s also a promising career path… not to mention the option to open up your own business too! Some people don’t see that.

There are organizations like Bring Back The Trades that are all about giving kids training and next level apprenticeships to become welders, carpenters, electricians, etc. But I say we in the construction industry need to get involved ourselves!

How can we bring back the trades? Let’s start with our messaging to youth.

  • Celebrate trade school acceptance and graduation like we do traditional college.
  • Help our high schools start their own programs.
  • Go to career days and talk to students.

What would I say to students? I’d say, “Instead of becoming a college graduate, here’s how to become a carpenter… here’s how to become a superintendent… here’s how to become one of the ones putting the work into place that our country needs right now.”

 

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