Employers seeing shortage in skilled labor workers

Experts say these professions were already experiencing a worker shortage but it only got worse due to the pandemic.

David González Image
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
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Whether it's the physical labor or working in the elements, some employers focused on skilled labor or trade jobs said they're having a harder time finding the right people to fill open positions.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A shortage in skilled labor workers is being felt across a wide sector of hands-on professions.

The crew at Ben's Asphalt knows their job isn't always easy.

"It's really back-breaking at times, but overall, it is a good job and a good career for us to have," said Alex Ayala, a field foreman for the company.

Whether it's the physical labor or working in the elements, some employers focused on skilled labor or trade jobs said they're having a harder time finding the right people to fill open positions.

"It's seems like nobody really wants to work anymore," said Ben's Asphalt CEO Bill Skeffington. "We're trying to hire new guys, bring in young guys. They get about a week's work of the asphalt stuff and they kind of want to go off and do something different."

It's a problem seen across the skilled labor industry in professions like construction, electrical, plumbing and carpentry.

"For every one person coming into skilled trade, it's five people who are leaving," said Kevin Ponder, the director of workforce development for PeopleReady Skilled Trades, an industrial staffing agency.

Experts like Ponder said these professions were already experiencing a worker shortage but it only got worse due to the pandemic.

He said it's hard to pinpoint what's causing the shortage but adds millennials were pushed toward four-year college degrees and away from trade jobs in school.

Now, Ponder said a lot of the current skilled laborers will age out in the next 15 years.

"Forty percent of the 12 million people in the skilled trades today: That workforce is over the age of 45 with nearly half of those being over the age of 55 and less than 9% of them are between the ages of 19 and 24," Ponder said.

He said since people in these fields are in high demand, these jobs are offering competitive pay and benefits.

Also, Ponder said to lure in the next workforce generation, they need to change the perception on what a career in this industry looks like and the endless job opportunities that come with it.

"If you learn the skills, you get the on-the-job education, you learn to be a leader through your process then you can grow to. The sky's your limit," he said.

Ponder also said companies need to work on ways of keeping their employees.

As for people who may be considering a career change, he said while some of these jobs may be physically demanding, it is never too late to start.