Emphasizing the value of trade schools to current and future generations could very well be the key to solving the skilled labor shortage that is impacting the construction industry in America. Since a growing number of U.S. high schools are eliminating vocational training opportunities due to budget cuts, fewer students are gaining the skills that they could use for construction jobs upon graduating. Yet another obstacle that the country has to overcome is the idea that students require expensive bachelor’s degrees in order to be successful. However, there are millions of construction careers that do not require a four-year college degree; many only require one or two-year training programs that can be obtained at budget-friendly trade schools.

Trade School vs. College

From community colleges to public or private universities, traditional college might be the best choice for those high school students who are unsure of what you want to do after graduating. Getting a college education can take anywhere from four to eight-plus years, so those students are given some extra time to narrow down their majors, careers paths, etc. Yet, there are those students that are ready to enter the workforce soon after graduating high school. Trade schools can provide them with efficient training and the certification needed for working construction jobs. Then, there are the financial considerations.

  • The average cost of a 4-year degree at a private college is $133,920, $38,600 for state residents at public colleges, and $99,720 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.
  • The average trade school degree cost $33,000 in 2017.

Labor Shortage: Short & Long-term Solutions

Construction leaders along with construction recruiters are using a variety of strategies to tackle the skilled labor crisis. The Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) is using short and long-term solutions to groom skilled labor. Scott Shelar, President and CEO of the organization said, “Short term, our Construction Ready Program gets under- and unemployed people trained very quickly. It’s a four-week boot camp program that started on the west side, in a program called Westside Works. In the last three years we’ve placed 160 people to work on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium alone.” The long term long term approach is to get into middle and high schools to share information and inspiration about opportunities in the construction industry.

Some other programs being used to encourage the next generation to consider commercial construction jobs include:

  • Home Depot’s Kids Workshops
    These workshops are held monthly at most of The Home Depot stores, the free program is open to five to 12-year olds, who learn to build simple projects, such as picture frames, planters, toy fire trucks, and more. Programs like this can get kids excited about construction projects and opportunities early.
  • Federal Boost for Job Training
    President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that supports expanding apprenticeships and improving job-training programs.

It’s important that we continue to emphasize the exceptional value of trade schools to current and future generations. This can be a critical element to solving the skilled labor shortage that is currently impacting the construction industry. Trade schools can provide efficient training and certification needed for many young people to enter into the construction field.


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The Birmingham Group is a tenured construction recruiting firm dedicated to helping you build your dream team. If you are ready to take a proactive approach to recruiting and retention, reach out today to discuss a custom recruitment strategy.