Is Finding a Permanent Solution to the Skilled Trade Shortage Realistic?
October 6, 2020
We’re all familiar with the skilled trade shortage and its detrimental effects on businesses and individuals in the construction, manufacturing, and transportation industries. It is a huge challenge facing businesses today.
It’s tempting to want to find an immediate solution—get it done, tuck it away, and move on to the next thing. The thing is, the trade gap didn’t happen overnight. So it’s not going to be completely solved overnight either.
However, with a combination of short and long term solutions, companies can take action to mitigate the effects of the trade gap in their day to day operations while also gradually fixing the problem in the long term.
The skilled trade shortage
The beginning—20 years of devaluing the trades
Over the past 20 years, we have been consistently devaluing the trades—and so the number of people pursuing the trades as careers has declined as well. On top of that, there’s a huge population of baby boomers who currently work in the trade industries who will be retiring in the next 5 to 7 years. Without a sufficient population of young people to take their place, there’s a significant shortage.
Companies started feeling the effects of the trade gap, but most didn’t know what they could practically do about it.
Not a short term problem or solution
One of our clients is a large manufacturer with facilities all across the country. They had the resources to devote to studying the trade gap, and quickly realized that this problem had been 20 years in the making. There wasn’t going to be a short term solution that would put it to rest permanently—this would be a 15-17 year process.
The permanent solution to the trade gap is ultimately getting young people interested in the skilled trades again. It’s crucial to bring respect back to the trades so students graduating high school consider trade school and a career in construction, manufacturing, or transportation a viable and attractive option. This larger culture shift is the end goal.
Unfortunately, as we have heard from many of our clients, that’s a tomorrow solution for a looming today problem.
How to solve the problems of today
Most businesses can’t afford to only think in the long term
Getting young people back into the trades is a great long term solution. But as you’re probably thinking, it’s not going to solve the challenges your business is facing today. While we encourage companies to invest in those multi-step, multi-year solutions, most can’t wait 15 years to solve a problem.
Especially if the competition is out solving it today.
Skillwork offers a short and mid term solution
We created Skillwork because we saw companies struggling to meet their goals and objectives without the people they needed. We knew that most companies didn’t have the time or resources to support a 15-year strategy.
Skillwork is the bridge for companies to solve their immediate problems (for example, a lack of talent to meet deadlines) so they have the bandwidth to begin to invest in the longer term, more permanent solutions. We also partner with companies to invest in the long term strategies and are very much focused on bringing respect back to the skilled trades.
Partnering with Skillwork helps companies find reliable and talented skilled workers that show up ready to work on day 1. Our innovative approach matches the right person to the right position so companies can stop worrying about hiring decisions and bring that focus back to running the business and meeting deadlines.
While many companies can’t afford to be innovative and strategic in their long term thinking, it’s what we focus on, every day.
Is finding an immediate, permanent solution to the trade gap unrealistic?
Perhaps—but the story doesn’t end there
The skilled trade shortage isn’t an unsolvable problem.
However, it will take time, energy, and resources to undo the years of damage that caused the trade gap in the first place. The permanent solution will likely take many years. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have years to invest or wait, and need a quicker solution to act as a bridge or stopgap to get them through the most challenging years of the trade gap before things start to turn around.
At Skillwork, our entire focus is the skilled worker shortage. Unlike you who are focused on keeping production rolling or completing that project on time, we can devote all our time and attention to finding and placing the people you need, so you can focus on what you do best.