Did you know that there are approximately 3 million jobs that are going unfilled in America today? The most vocal and perhaps recognizable voice in the discussion is Mike Rowe (1) who recently testified to Congress regarding the “skills gap” in our education system. Mike highlights the fact that “too many” people are going to college and not enough are learning the trades that keep our roads paved, the lights on, and the water flowing. There has been a growing perception among our youth that trade jobs are demeaning, low paying, and a dead end. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is a clip from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that is well worth a watch.
Update: the links to the video keep being removed so click here to see the interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight
The federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), provides funding to our local region for employment development. The NW Workforce Development Council (covering Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties) researched the needs of our community and published a 4 year plan (2) for employers and educators.
The Council states that labor shortages may be critical over the next 5 years. Young adults are currently slower to get into the workforce than in the past because of:
- Limited meaningful “first job” opportunities
- General disengagement from the world of work
- Additional language barriers
In essence, too few young people are looking at going into manufacturing or other trades. This has significant ramifications for our community. Key Industry Sectors for this Region that may see a shortage of skilled workers are:
- Advanced Manufacturing: (petroleum, woods, metal, food, machinery, transportation equipment—especially aerospace and marine) growth rate = 18.4%
- Health and Allied Services: growth rate = 15.7%
- Construction: growth rate = 8%
Education/Training Required for jobs in these areas by percentage:
- 22% require a high school diploma or GED
- 34% require a high school diploma + vocational or other training
- 29% require vocational or other training, 2 year degree, possibly a 4 year degree
- 11% require 4 year degree
- 4% require 4 year degree + advanced degree
In summary, 85% of the job opportunities currently needing to be filled do not require a 4 year degree, while only 15% require a degree or advanced degree. Encouraging students to pursue becoming employed in these areas will lower the overall student loan debt, lower unemployment and the related costs, retain skilled workers in rural communities, and promote economic growth.
Starting next fall students from LHS will have the opportunity to participate in unpaid internships for school credit. It will allow them to acquire new skills and gain valuable experience for their resume. Students will not be coming into these internships empty handed: they will have already received valuable classroom instruction in skill sets we need in the marketplace. We the community will be providing the lab!
What exciting times lay ahead for all of us as we partner with the schools to help students prepare for successful launch as contributing members of our community. Are you ready to Be the One to help a student Be the One READY?
For more information on how you can participate as a marketplace mentor please contact: