If you haven’t kept up with my recent series on the aging electrical grid so far, I highly recommend taking a look at the first two posts to get your bearings on how I see things for people working in the trades:
- The Challenges and Opportunities of Our Aging Electrical Grid
- Monopolized Utilities – Is The End In Sight?
In this 3rd post, we’re going switch gears just a bit so that we can take a somewhat panoramic look at things. I want my readers to get a feel for how recent events will direct impact on Electrical Contractors. In particular, we’ll look at some examples of advocates for the trades and we’ll answer the million dollar question – Is this a good time to work in the trades?
Advocates For The Trades
Perhaps one of the best advocates out there for the trades is Mike Rowe! Through the work of his foundation, he has helped shed light on what he calls “a profound disconnect” between the U.S. population and the U.S. companies out there looking for skilled labor. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Mike’s testimony before a congressional panel – it’s an absolute must watch!
In the past, many public high schools offered vocational programs and coursework that aligned with work-training and apprenticeships. However, as young people in the U.S. have opted to pursue 4 year college degrees over technical certifications, many of those programs have vanished and public resources have been shifted into other areas of education as a result.
In addition to the celebrity advocates out there, a lot of trade schools are putting in the hard work it takes to advance the education of up and coming trades-people. One such school, the Pinellas County Technical College is just minutes away from where I live! The private market has also stepped in to partner up with schools like PTEC. It just makes good financial sense for these companies to fund the programs that will produce the workers they need right now, and for years to come. Just check out the list of corporate sponsors for a recent SkillsUSA team and the privately funded commitment is clear as day. Here are just a bigger names that were involved
- Snap-On Tools
- Deere & Company
It’s obvious that these companies see the value in their choice to invest in technical training. They literally can’t afford to sit around and wait for politicians to address the widening skills gap issue facing the U.S. economy. As a wise man once said, “necessity is the mother of invention” and it has never been more true than it is right now.
Timing Is Everything
Based on my daily communications with even highly experienced, top notch Electrical Contractors, I get the feeling that there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on about the job market. While many aspects of the U.S. economy are limping along and the hiring market continues to resemble a mine field – you could not have picked a better time to be in the trades!
Is this a good time to invest in new skills and training in electrical contracting instead of a 4 year degree? Well, let’s look at some key statistics, and you can make up your own mind:
- As recently as June 2014, the total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. eclipsed $1.2 Trillion Dollars, The overwhelming majority of this debt has been accrued by students attending 4 year colleges.
- The skills gap in U.S. maufacturing continues to increase, with no real plan to address the problem from the Federal or State level.
- Some of the best paying jobs in the fastest growing industries, do not require a college degree
- America has a record number of job openings
The numbers speak for themselves, and as I’ve highlighted in my previous posts on the issue of our aging infrastructure – the problem will get worse before it gets better. So if you’re an electrical contractor, what do this all mean for you?
In my next post for this series, we’ll dive into the direct impact that these industry trends are having and will continue to have on those who work in and around electrical construction.
– Tyson Conrad