The Labor Shortage in New England & what is being done.


Currently in the US there are 250,000 plus job openings in the trades and construction fields.

The medium annual wages for all these openings is $ 45,820.00.  In each category the need for skilled workers will continue to grow. The medium salary for an electrician is $ 52,170. By 2026 we will need 50,000 more electricians. Medium salary for a pipe fitter/plumbers is $ 52,000.00 and again the need for plumber is expected to grow  60,000 in 2026. The list goes on and on for all the trades. Lots of openings with good pay and benefits. All these jobs do not require huge amounts of college loans to gain the needed skills. 

At a recent forum hosted by BRAGB ( Builders and Rebuilders Association of Greater Boston) a panel of local experts offered solutions to this major issue.

Ed Brady President & CEO of the Home Builders Institute is working on several fronts to bring new skilled workers into the trades.

  1. HBI is working with underserved populations. The corrections system as a source of future workers. They offer 12 week training programs to inmates before they are released. When the inmates complete the training a graduation ceremony is held complete with cap & gown. The newly released inmates now have skills and a pathway to obtain a good job.
  2. HBI is also working at 7 Military bases across the USA to train soldiers within 6 months of leaving the service. Many soldiers know how to march and shot guns but do not have skills needed for civilian life.
  3. They are working with youth groups and local schools to offer 12 week training programs. 
  4. HBI will train over 15,000 new workers this year.

Josh Otlin Principal of Milford High School has developed a Private/Public collaboration to start a  carpentry program at the school. Otlin feels without the push from BRAGB, along with a $ 10,000.00 grant their program would have taken much longer to get off the ground. Of the 16 students expected to graduate 11 have jobs lined up in the trades, 5 are planning to go to college. Josh laid out the steps needed top grow this program to other schools.

  1. Public/Private collaborations from trade groups and local businesses.
  2. Educators need to be educated that there are options besides a 4 year collage track, In fact only 45% of high school graduates complete any level of college degree within 6 years of finishing high school.
  3. Private money is needed to get a trades program in public schools up and running quickly.
  4. High Schools are rewarded for getting students to colleges. This needs to change. At  least 30% of high school kids are not being well served by this practice. This group is looking for something different. They are future workers to fill the shortage of help.

Rosalin Acosta, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development offered what the Sate of Mass is doing to help with the labor shortage.

  1. While unemployment in Massachusetts is at 3% and New Hampshire is a little less. There are pockets of higher unemployment. Unemployment rates for blacks and Latinos is at 5.5%. Businesses need recruit and train this pool of available talent.

2). Academia/ Education/ and Economic Cabinets are longer working as long wolves but together in a recently formed Workforce Skills Cabinet.

3) 29 Mass Hire Career Centers have been formed to help train workers in the 4 areas of severe labor shortages. The greatest jobs needs are in the trades, healthcare, IT, and Hospitality.

4) 75 million dollars is available to industry and education over the next 4 years for training.

All these great suggestions/programs will hopefully help in the long run, but what can be done in the short time to alleviate some of the shortages in work force.

  1. Do something different!
  2. Industry needs to get into Schools
  3. Industry need to educate parents that there are options.
  4. Bring the craftsmanship of the trades back into schools
  5. Companies need business models
  6. Partnerships with youth groups
  7. CASH Talks. Schools need cash from businesses, or trade groups to get programs up and running
  8. Pre apprentice programs for high school kids
  9. Stackable credentials for kids in trade programs at schools
  10. Earn high school or college credits for working as an apprentice 

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