The U.S. Needs More Tradespeople, Not More Bachelor’s Degrees

A Shortage of Tradespeople

During the latter part of the 20th century, the national push for college hurt the image of vocational programs. Funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs dwindled, with some being closed down entirely. Where this was seen as a career avenue for the Boomer generation, the later generations didn’t want to pursue hands-on vocations. Even the factories and jobsites saw the effect, as less and less skilled workers were available.

When the economy slowed during the recession of 2007, funding for construction projects diminished. Many companies fought to stay afloat and skilled workers had to leave their industries in pursuit of jobs to pay the bills. It was also difficult to justify bringing a new generation of apprentices aboard when there was barely enough work to keep the veteran workers busy.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act was signed into effect on July 31,2018,  a revitalization and update to the Perkins Act of 2006, improving support for career and technical education programs at federal level. Some businesses are experimenting with new career paths – where in the past, skilled laborers were promoted into management positions and away from the skill they had, some businesses are now looking at creating parallel paths to keep skilled workers at task but provide the benefits of career advancement.

Most importantly, trade schools and vocational programs are receiving more attention at the grade-school level as well as from adults looking for a career change. By evolving what is in place, growing it, and publicizing that it’s no longer the vocational school that parents and grandparents used to dread, the technical track is starting to appeal again.

College Versus Trades

A recent study found both families and potential employers of skilled labor didn’t necessarily know of the existence or value of vocational and certificate programs available to students and adults. By publicizing these programs better, and publicizing the improvements in CTE, some students may be swayed from the four-year path.

Comparing trade schools to colleges:

  • The average two-year trade school degree costs $33,000, while the average bachelor’s degree costs $127,000 – and that’s if you stick to the four-year plan and don’t need extra semesters.
  • This means the trade school graduate enters the workforce two years earlier, and can tackle any debt built up earlier, instead of it accruing interest.
  • Professional groups and employers offer grants, scholarships, and stipends that can help reduce the cost of trade school.
  • Trade schools have evolved so that much of the work you’ll learn, and the jobs they will lead to, will be difficult to export to other countries or outsource.

SEH Excavating and Trades

Here at SEH Excavating, we utilize a blended workforce of laborers, skilled tradespeople, and degree holders to provide all the skills necessary to be a leader in the excavation industry. We’re always looking for workers at all positions, particularly skilled tradespeople. Common open positions include:

  • Concrete foreman
  • Concrete finishers
  • CDL B drivers
  • Heavy Equipment Operators
  • Paving foreman
  • Paving operators
  • Screed operators
  • Lutemen
  • Roller operators
  • Pipelayers

We provide industry-leading compensation packages, additional on-the-job training, and income that is at or above industry average. We believe that the best way to provide our customers with projects that meet their needs is to have a staff of highly-trained, highly-motivated workers. The best way to do that is to treat them right. Whether you are looking to get started on the right path as a student, or looking to change careers as a working adult, get in touch with our team and we can help you get headed down the right pat