Skills Gap Awareness: Are We Making Progress?
By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman
It’s been a while since we talked about one of our hot buttons: the ongoing skills gap in manufacturing and the trades. It’s good to see that the topic is very much alive and getting continual, positive coverage in the media. Are we slowly experiencing a shift to bring young people back into skilled traded positions? Is the stigma for blue collar positions slowly lifting?
Plenty of industry leaders are doing their part to help bring awareness.
Lincoln Electric recognizes this issue and is leading the challenge to change the perception of manufacturing jobs, which as CEO Christopher Mapes points out, “When people think about welding, they typically don’t think high-tech. Instead, they picture workers with their heads enveloped in welding helmets. That’s not what welding is today…Welding is robotics. It’s metallurgy. It’s software engineering.” Read more about Lincoln’s initiatives for tackling the skill gap here.
Skilled trade’s biggest proponent, Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe, who recently published, “The Way I Heard It,” believes, “The skills gap today, in my opinion, is a result of the removal of shop class and the repeated message that the best path for most people happens to be the most expensive path.”
While 40 years ago we needed more people to get into higher education, the pendulum swung so far in the direction of promoting higher education, that it has alienated an entire section of the workforce, skilled trades. With 7.3 million skilled jobs unfilled in our country (and 1.6 trillion in debt from higher education), we desperately need the pendulum to swing back.
It seems the messaging is starting to get through.
This recent article articulates how trade schools are now touting how blue-collar professionals such as plumbers, electricians and mechanics make more money than workers whose roles require a college degree.
Perhaps the trend against four-year-college degrees has begun. Many of the fastest-growing professions do not require a bachelor’s degree, and some do not even require a high-school diploma. Could the new six-figure job be trade work?
Let’s hope that more and more of our young people (or people considering a career change) look at skilled trade positions as a viable option for their career path.
If you found this post interesting, check out these additional posts on the topic:
Skills Gap: We’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap