Can Trade Schools Fill the Gap in 2020?
If you’ve worked in manufacturing, construction or a similar industry for any length of time, you won’t be surprised to learn there’s a looming shortage of manufacturing workers in the U.S. In fact, The Boston Consulting Group estimates the current shortfall to be around 80,000-100,000 highly skilled manufacturing workers with welders, machinists and machinery mechanics in particularly short supply. What’s worse is that number is expected to multiply nearly tenfold in the next decade. But why - and what can we do about it?
The fact is many young people are simply not attracted to a career in skilled crafts and trades. You probably noticed that nearly all high schools in the U.S. are geared towards prepping students for college. That’s obviously great for some students but for others, the value of learning skilled crafts and trades (as they once did in the 1950’s and 60’s) has been largely overlooked. This is where trade school education can help narrow the disparity in the U.S. manufacturing worker supply.
There are several schools across the country taking secondary education that direction. You can find some in your area using a quick Google search. For post-high school graduates, there are a large number of community colleges who offer certificate and 2-year degree programs in these fields. By publically encouraging interested youth to seek these types of programs, we can help fill the gap of the anticipated 875,000 manufacturing workers needed in the U.S. in 2020 (According to USBLS).
If you’re on the fence about a career in manufacturing, consider this - CNN Money Expert Parija Kavilanz wrote an article highlighting the real world outcomes of a successful career in manufacturing. According to Kavilanz, there’s plenty of evidence to support that careers for expert machinists can be rather lucrative ($50k-100k DOE). We just need to break the stigma that working in a factory is “uncool.”
There are many nuances to the issues of education, skilled trades, choosing a career path and this article certainly doesn’t attempt to deal with all of them. The fact is these manufacturing jobs will need to be filled soon, so we might as well do our best to educate young people on the benefits of careers in skilled crafts and trades. Let's all rally around this effort to grow U.S. manufacturing jobs in the coming decade!