HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – As the weather warms up and the birds and bees get active, and so does the construction industry. As always, the industry needs skilled workers to help meet the high demand for construction jobs. In fact, the demand for workers often far outweighs the supply of skilled workers. This week, Wade Thompson of ABC Workforce Development stopped by WHNT News 19 to give us perspective on just how short the supply of workers truly is.
“At this time, it’s estimated that there are like, four million skilled labor jobs that are vacant, that they can’t fill.” says Thompson. “Not jobs, I should say skilled trades and openings, and there’s a need because the average age of the skilled tradesman is like 59. So in the next three or four years these guys are going to retire, become disabled, or whatever, so there’s going to be a gap.”
What types of jobs are we talking about here? Wade Thompson says that “we’re talking about skilled trade jobs like electricians, plumbers, pipe-fitters, heavy equipment operators. I mean the list goes on. It’s more of a skilled trades need.”
These jobs are all high paying jobs, so why are there four million opportunities going unfilled? Thompson thinks that, “a lot of it is the perception of the construction industry, people think I don’t want, hey I don’t want to be dirty, I don’t want to do that type of work. I want to wear a suit and tie and be successful, and make a lot of money. Well, there’s a lot of people wearing a suit and tie and they make 30-thousand dollars a year, and they’re happy. I’m not knocking them. But there are opportunities. I think it’s a mind-set. It’s got to be overcome with the perception of the construction industry and since I have been with the craft training foundation, I have a 117 apprentices, and I deal with instructors, I have admiration for these guys. You’ve got to have some match skills to do a lot of these jobs, and everything we come into contract with every day. Whether it’s roads, a house, a building, construction is controlling it. Once it’s built, someone has to maintain it.”
View our entire conversation with Wade Thompson here in three parts: