Skilled labor workforce sees severe nationwide shortage

 There are millions of job openings available for skilled workers. But filling them all remains a problem.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people could work remotely, but that doesn't work for skilled laborers. Carpenters, ironworkers, mechanics, and others must do their work in person. Now, these skilled-labor jobs are in high demand among a nationwide shortage.

Hunter Adams is one of about 8,000 skilled-labor students at Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont, Texas. He says he and about 95% of his classmates already have jobs secured, ahead of graduation, from companies eager for tradesmen.  

"They want me to go to school to learn and get my education, then once I get my degree I’ll step over to being a full-time mechanic," Adams said.

Nationwide, there are over 600,000 trade apprenticeships such as Adams'. But as Alamo Colleges District Dean for Academic Success Chris Beardsall said, they're "playing catch-up" to a nationwide shortage increasing their demand.

"Since the demand is so high, we’re having students come in for a year, get the basic skills, and realizing they can get employed right away," Beardsall added. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 8 million skilled-labor jobs were lost from the labor force during the pandemic. About half have been filled, but about 4 million vacancies remained in industries responsible for most transportation, construction, and mechanical needs nationwide. National Association of Workforce Boards President Ron Painter said the so-called "Great Resignation" was fueled by many tradesmen taking early retirement, wanting to work from home, or finding less labor-intensive jobs. 

"Through the pandemic, we saw an unprecedented level of boomers leave the labor market, walk out of the labor market," Painter told FOX Business. 

Lamar Institute of Technology President Lonnie Howard said corporate donations and financial assistance help cut costs for students substantially.

He also said the use of robots can fill some vacancies because we will always need humans around. "Someone will still need the skill set to work on the computers."

Tradesmen say if at least three-fourths of these vacancies are not filled, the result of this shortage will be average consumers paying more for gas and food.

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