THE CONSTRUCTION LABOR SHORTAGE ISN’T GOING AWAY.
In fact, it’s growing. In response, the value of a trade education also is rising. It’s beginning to change minds and attitudes.
Tradespeople are today’s salespeople—educating the uninformed and reluctant on the viability of construction careers.
You can see a change in the makeup of apprentices going
through International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers/
National Electrical Contractors Association (IBEW/NECA)
training centers. Many are job-changers with college degrees
drawn to electrical work. High schools adding trade career education tracks potentially has even more impact.
The “2017 Union Craft Labor Supply Survey,” by the Asso-
ciation of Union Constructors, revealed worker shortages had
increased in 2016. Of the 791 management and union repre-
sentative respondents, building trades were in the shortest
supply—54 percent of respondents being electricians. The
Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reports that
the average age of a skilled worker is over 50 years old, and for
every five tradesmen who leave the industry, only one replaces
them. ELEC TRICAL CON TRAC TOR’s 2016 Profile of the Electrical
Contractor places the average age of its workforce at 57. 3 years.
IBEW Local No. 134 and NECA Chicago are trying something new. In collaboration with the city and Chicago Public
Schools (CPS), Local No. 134 has developed a curriculum for
the Chicago Builds program, a two-year construction training
program for 11th- and 12th-grade CPS students. The program
was rolled out at Dunbar Career Academy High School in the
2016–2017 school year.
“The mayor’s office asked Don Finn, business manager for
Local 134, for IBEW and NECA’s participation in the Chicago
Builds program,” said John Donahue, director for the IBEW-NECA Technical Institute, Alsip, Ill. “We provide teaching
assistance and a curriculum. After an introduction to the construction industry in general, we move into electrical work with
material identification, tool usage and hands-on activities.”
> FOCUS BY JEFF GAVIN
Renewed early trade
education may reverse
workforce shortages the Tide