It seems that the country has finally woken up to the national crisis of our skilled trades gap and the reality of a generation with no skills to fill said gap. So, what woke America up to this crisis?
Is it the angry generation of college grads who were given false hopes of what a college education would provide them? Or the crazy amount of debt that they are left with? According to a new study conducted by Third Way, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, “We are now making 17 and 18-year-old kids take on loans in the neighborhood of up to—and in excess of—$200,000…(and it) concludes that many who go to college come out earning less than the typical salary of a high school graduate.” Or is it the angry homeowners who can’t seem to get anyone to do their remodels? A recent study conducted by Angie’s List and Home Advisor found that “over half of professionals indicate that they are either currently turning down jobs or that they will have to turn down jobs in the next two years as a direct result of the skilled labor shortage.”
Or is it the 70 percent of contractors who report being frustrated that they can’t grow their business because they can’t find qualified skilled workers? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s findings, the median age for workers in construction and services to buildings and dwellings is 43 years old. Workers under the age of 25 make up just around 10 percent of that total workforce. That is a huge problem for an industry that employs over 10 million people. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in the long-term, the United States GDP From Construction is projected to trend around 680.69 USD Billion in 2020, according to their econometric models.
Now that everyone has been scared straight, capitalists, non-profits and even the federal government are allocating millions of dollars into training the next generation. And reminiscent of WWII campaigns, women are being targeted and called upon to help fill the gap. The difference, of course, this time around, is if women step in, there’s no heading back to the kitchen once the job is done. The gap is so large that the industry has no choice but to welcome women in the hopes they will stay. But it’s important to note that even though women may be part of the solution, the problem was not singularly contrived by the stigma of women’s lack of ability to work in a male-dominated industry - that stigma has been around way before this skilled trades gap ever appeared. Rather, It was created by years of the stigma of blue-collar workers and the lack of funding and access to resources and education. This problem does however create a unique opportunity to help resolve gender equality in construction and skilled trades, and women will be doing a great disservice to their fight for equality by not doing more to seize this moment in history, to change the ratio of women to men in construction. Women aren’t taking jobs from men; the seats are wide open, and Bob has a seat open right next to him if they want it.