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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As older laborers leave the job market, there aren’t enough younger workers to fill those roles. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts by 2020 the country will see a shortfall of 10 million skilled workers in manufacturing-related industries.

“The average age of a skilled tradesman is 59 and for every four of these people who walk off the job due to retirement or disability, there’s only one coming back,” Wade Thompson, Director of Workforce Development for Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., said.

The Center for America reported 32% of US manufacturers reported jobs going unfilled in 2008 because they couldn’t find the right people for the work.
But, employers are trying to change a mindset.

“In the construction industry, it’s the only industry where you can come in with a high school education and work your way up the career ladder,” Thompson said.

Job Applicant Rodricus Pettus is on board.

“I’m good with general labor, and heavy lifting, hardworking man and just trying to take care of business,” Pettus said.

Pettus attended construction labor contractors’ hiring event on Wednesday morning with a purpose.

“Being able to take care of my family,” Pettus said of what brought him to the hiring event at the Alabama Career Center.

People like Pettus are finding jobs with benefits, and weekly pay, in a field that is consistently growing and changing.

“Once a building’s built, or a house or anything, you can’t just say ‘okay we’ve built it,'” Thompson said. “Things happen, HVAC systems go out, plumbing goes out.”

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics gives quick facts about electricians’ earnings last year. The agency says a skilled worker’s median pay is more than $25.00 an hour, nearly $53,000 a year. That’s with a high school diploma or GED.