Skilled To Work: High Demand for Skilled Blue Collar Workers

WAAY 31's Will Robinson-Smith begins WAAY 31's series on the need for skilled trade workers in Alabama.

Posted: Jan. 10, 2019 5:43 PM
Updated: Jan. 10, 2019 5:43 PM

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needed. we're facing a crisis because the workforce is aging out. jay stutts is a third generation electrician and is now the owner of huntsville's mister sparky franchise and vice president of its parent company, jesse stutts inc. he says the hiring challenge isn't going away anytime soon. it would be one or two generations before we get back to a strong trade level, unless we just have a mass exodus from the white-collar world to the blue-collar world. according to a study released last week by the associated general contractors of america, in alabama, 74 percent of construction firms surveyed said they're having a hard time filling some or all positions. construction companies added this year it will continue or become even harder to find those skilled workers. we have this huge void of people aging out of the workforce and then just not having the younger people coming up through the trades to replace them. tiffany brightwell is the president of the north alabama chapter of associated builders and contractors. she says a big part of the blame lies with the way we've taught children for years. we as parents, as educators, as a society have really done a disservice to students. we've told them that the only way they can be successful is to earn a four-year college degree and that's just simply not true anymore. according to the alabama construction recruitment institute... about 40 percent of students who graduate with a loan to pay off need at least a decade. the latest data from the institute for college access and success shows that for the class of 2017, alabama had the eighth highest average debt at almost 32 thousand dollars another frightening stat: about half the students in alabama graduate with debt. that puts us in a three-way tie at 40th with california and florida. will robinson-smith standup and this problem goes beyond construction. in just north alabama, there are hundreds of job openings each year in skilled jobs like for registered nurses, computer user support specialists, physical therapist assistants and heating/air conditioning mechanics, just to name a few of the top ten. meanwhile, stutts hopes people will start to take a closer look at skilled work beyond the stigma and see they can offer a good salary, and a skillset that can build into a solid career. you can start with nothing and five, 10, 15 years later you can have your business. that's pretty encouraging. reporting in huntsville, will robinson-smith, waay 31 news.
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