Filling the Skilled-Workers Gap - Current Events | JA In The News | Junior Achievement USA

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Filling the Skilled-Workers Gap

Is a question that is top-of-mind for many high schoolers —what will I do once I graduate? For many, it has become the norm to take a loan out to continue one’s education for another four years at a college with the hope of landing a good-paying job. Yet recent data show that employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill a record 6.7 million job openings. These are occupations that may not require a four-year degree, but require skills that can be obtained at a community college, trade school, or even on the job.

What Industries are in Labor Shortages?

Industry Insider has identified five “sectors” that are experiencing severe labor shortages. These industries include construction, retail trade, accommodation & food services, manufacturing and healthcare & social assistance. Within the healthcare and social assistance realm, there was an average of 1 million job openings a month during 2018, followed by 739,000 job openings a month within the accommodation and food service industry.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, stated, “Business’ number one problem is finding qualified workers. At the current pace of job growth, if sustained, this problem is set to get much worse… These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes.”

What are industries doing to fill job openings?

As employers are struggling to fill openings, economists are predicting that businesses will have to start doing more to entice workers. Discussions around pay raises, trainings, and other incentives have been identified as some of the investments companies will have to make in order to bring in workers to fill job positions. In fact, some industries are finding themselves increasing the pay for skilled employees just to keep from losing them to competitors. Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, commented, “Pressure is building for employers, and both hard data and anecdotal reports indicate that wage pressures are building…With the economy still humming, employers are able to justify stronger wage increases to retain or attract talent…”

Promising Industries for Today’s Youth

A Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce study conducted in 2017 found that between 1991 and 2015 “Good jobs in non-manufacturing blue-collar industries, such as construction and transportation, increased in 38 states…” Careers in construction show promise as there are nearly 3.5 million people who have construction jobs in the U.S. paying an average salary of $59,000 a year.

The Federal Reserve has identified that in 2016, nearly half (42%) of graduates borrowed money to pay for college. Once graduating college, the average student loan debt owed was between $20,000 to $25,000. Those interested in skilled labor out of high school typically do not experience much student debt and will have a more robust resume with four years of work experience than their college-bound classmates.

Is Your Future in Skilled Labor?

Junior Achievement (JA) realizes the struggle the many teens have when making career decisions. JA Job Shadow® offers students a unique opportunity to visit a professional work environment, including those in skilled trades, and gain insights into how to find and keep a fulfilling career. To learn more, visit  JA Job Shadow

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