Shop class is back, ready to tackle the construction skills gap
- Shop class is making a comeback in Texas, where immigration enforcement has left the construction industry with a lack of skilled workers, Dallas News reported. The Dallas-Fort Worth area alone is short about 20,000 to 30,000 construction workers.
- Once cut from the curriculum in many high schools and community colleges, shop is back, with a focus on skills like math that can set students up for high-paying jobs. In Texas, construction wages have almost hit $28.50 per hour, about $2.00 more than average private sector earnings, according to Dallas News.
- Experts say the jobs should be relatively future-proof, too. While technology may be reshaping almost every industry, stakeholders told Dallas News that robots won't be able to, for example, make plumbing repairs any time soon.
Recruiting and hiring in the skilled trades has been challenging across the country, but the construction industry appears particularly hard-hit. Skills gaps are predicted to stall industry growth as employers scramble to fill vacancies. Many report turning down lucrative contracts because they simply don't have the staff to execute.
Stakeholders are responding in that industry and others with new partnerships between business, educators and governments.
In Detroit, for example, lawmakers are working with employers to improve the talent pipeline with renewed investment in infrastructure as well as new apprenticeship opportunities. Educators are working with agencies to retool their own technical career programming at the community college and even high school levels to reinvigorate a talent pipeline.
Some trade schools are even working with employers to recruit students and workers simultaneously with the promise of jobs after program completion.
And it appears they may be on the right track: A 2018 report from the Council of Economic Advisors advised that today's economic growth — along with digitization and changes in the way work is performed — will require educators, employers, government and even employees to coordinate their efforts to meet demand.
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