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Does the Skills Gap Remain a Problem?

Workforce Development

By Dan Belcher, from NCCER Blog

There is a high price paid in productivity, opportunity and prosperity when organizations can’t find workers to fill critical jobs. With a growing shortage of skilled craft professionals comes increased budgets and extended schedules. The greatest problem in filling these positions is finding qualified workers with both technical and interpersonal skills to meet the needs of today’s job market. In fact, 80% of contractors have found it difficult to fill hourly craft positions.

According to Manpower Group, a lack of available applicants is the most common reason why employers have difficulty filling jobs, and nearly a third of employers acknowledge that this is a high-priority problem. For the tenth consecutive year, the skilled crafts have ranked among the top five hardest roles to fill globally.

Part of the reason for the skills gap is society’s view of craft professions. Coached by parents, teachers and other adult authorities to seek the perceived security of a four-year degree, our younger generation lacks skills and understanding of craft training. Each year, NCCER’s recruitment and image enhancement initiative, Build Your Future (BYF), declares October as Careers in Construction Month to show young people the value in construction careers. Throughout the month, industry and education partner locally to host career events that introduce students to rewarding construction careers.

For the fifth year in a row, NCCER and BYF are hosting the I BUILT THIS! video contest to give aspiring craft professionals and their instructors an opportunity to showcase their construction projects. The contest is open through October 31 to students and instructors in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs — high schools, craft training programs and apprenticeship programs are all encouraged to participate. This year’s prizes are bigger than ever thanks to the 2019 prize sponsors: Carhartt, DeWalt, Harbor Freight Tools and Pearson.

Another way in which industry and education have joined forces to close the skills gap is through NCCER’s Construction Career Pathwaysinitiative. Construction Career Pathways connects industry and education to provide students with careers by highlighting best practices and providing practical resources to help educate and drive collaboration. Through this collaboration, CTE programs continually deliver industry-relevant construction craft training while providing students with job opportunities when they graduate. CTE students also receive comprehensive skill training that is in demand by today’s employers, such as technical skills, academic skills and employability skills, and they understand how these skills transfer directly to the real world.

The skills gap remains a very real threat to the productivity, opportunity and prosperity of our industry. Through the collaboration of organizations like NCCER, BYF, SkillsUSA and ACTE, the construction industry is prepared to face these challenges. We must continue to introduce young people to the opportunities of valuable, rewarding and well-compensated employment in the crafts. It is up to all of us to make sure that these opportunities are promoted, so we can create a sustainable pipeline of craft professionals for generations to come.

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