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Shortage of Skilled Trade Workers | What’s Holding Youth Back From Pursuing Skilled Labor

Shortage of Skilled Trade Workers | What’s Holding Youth Back From Pursuing Skilled Labor

February 1, 2022
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Things are changing quickly in the trade industry. Remember back in the day, when a hard day’s work was something they wrote songs about? Nowadays, it’s something frowned upon by the younger generation. But why? And what consequences will this have for your trade business as older qualified workers begin to retire?

Let’s take a closer look at youth in the trades, and how you can help to change the cultural mindset about the trade industry.


Why Is There A Shortage Of Skilled Trades Workers?

There’s a major skilled labor shortage taking place — and that’s because Boomers are on the way out. The most trusted and reliable sector in the trade industry is retiring in droves, creating an unprecedented trade labor shortage. And good for them, they deserve it — the younger Boomers are in their late 50s, after all.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the younger generation were here to fill their shoes. But unfortunately, Millennials are turning up their noses to skilled trade job postings. The result is a desperate need for manual labor, something your trade business may already be experiencing.

Do We Think About Success Wrong?

Part of the reason Millennials and Gen Z are avoiding a career in the trades is the unfortunate reality that trade jobs have been given a bad rap. The younger generations have been conditioned to think that these positions are for people who aren’t smart enough for college. In other words, they’re the type of job for losers who failed out of school and have no other options.

Obviously, we all know that’s not true, but the stigma sticks. Skilled trades workers’ reputation is so bad that one study noted that people aged 18 to 24 would rather work in a coffee shop than have a high-paying trade gig. And the same survey found that over half of participants were not interesting in attending a trade school at all.

That’s not to say that going to college is a bad choice. But it’s certainly not “the best” choice, especially when a trade school degree costs just $33,000 compared to $127,000 for a bachelor’s degree. Not only that, but kids can start making a decent salary — between $14 and $18 an hour — right out of school. Meanwhile, a college kid would only be able to snag a part-time summer job for minimum wage.

The question remains — should we be thinking about and defining success differently? Does earning that shiny diploma really make a college graduate better than a skilled laborer?

Love What You Do

It’s important to have a job you love to do, otherwise, you’re in for a life of suffering. For many people, working with their hands, having a different work environment every day, and helping people is an ideal combo. Yes, working as plumbers, electricians, and construction workers can be hard. That said, if it makes you happy… then it’s the job for you. It doesn’t matter what society at large thinks, all that matters is whether you feel fulfilled in your everyday life.

There’s so much value in providing necessary services to homeowners! After all, they’ll still be relying on your handiwork five, 10, or even 20 years down the road. It’s meaningful and honest work, and this is something we need to show to the younger generation so they can start to better understand it.

How to Change the Cultural Perception of Skilled Trade Workers

So, how can we fix this problem of a skilled labor shortage? Here are a few of our thoughts.

Showcase the Success of Skilled Workers

Maybe part of the reason kids these days don’t want a trade job is because they don’t understand how lucrative it can be. That’s why you need to start sharing success stories! Highlight how much they can make right out of high school, and use your existing employees as an example to show that not everyone in the construction industry is lazy or slow.

Avoid Putting Other Skilled Trades Down 

It’s sometimes easy to classify certain jobs as “beneath you.” Do your best not to perpetuate this stereotype. Every job is important, even if others don’t truly understand its worth.

Celebrate Working Hard and Solving Problems

Referencing the point above, there’s no problem with people who sit at a desk all day and type on the computer. That said, it’s time we start glorifying getting a little dirty during the day. Tell everyone who will listen that manual labor can provide self-satisfaction because you actually get to see and touch the progress you make in the world.

Embrace the Entrepreneurs

Part of the Millennial mindset that dictates college is a necessity is the drive to be successful in life. They did grow up during a recession, after all. Make sure they know you can do that in the skilled trades as well! Crushing the competition is just as important in plumbing as it is in the stock market.

Enhance your Recruitment Efforts

If you’re currently on the hunt for skilled tradespeople but are finding yourself hitting a wall, it may be time to reconsider your recruitment efforts. Even with an ongoing trade labor shortage, it doesn’t mean our youth is 100% uninterested.

With any and all trades workers, comprehending a new trade skill is all about learning. As an executive leader yourself, try offering an apprenticeship program that gives upcoming talent the chance to learn and work on multiple projects under your wing. With the right guidance, you may find yourself with a new employee in no time.



Let FieldPulse Take the Wheel

With Baby Boomers saying their goodbyes, it’s time for Millennials and Gen Z to step up to the plate. But as of now, they’re not willing, leading to a shortage of skilled workers throughout the country. This may be because skilled trades have a bad stigma surrounding them — so much so that kids would rather choose hundreds of thousands in insane debt over a guaranteed job opportunity.

Even so, changing this mindset begins with showcasing the value of skilled workers. By showing youth that it is possible to love what you do and make a difference, all while making a great living… we might just be able to turn this ship around. Of course, FieldPulse is here to help you do that. Our app lets you make running your business a breeze. Create jobs, manage schedules, and even send invoices, all with a few clicks — and no paperwork.

Give FieldPulse a try today with a free demo.


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