Is there a skilled trade worker shortage in 2021? The answer is, yes, there seems to be. In this article we’ll discuss the current situation and consider the future employment projections of careers in the skilled trades.
Skilled Trade Worker Shortage in the Present
Why is there a skilled worker shortage? There seem to be a number of factors contributing to the shortage of skilled trade workers. One reason is that as older generations retire from the workforce, there are not enough younger workers to take their place. BLS estimates that there are currently 1,191,000 people working in the construction and extraction occupations between the ages of 55 to 64 years (2021). That will lead to quite a few positions opening up over the next decade.
PeopleReady is reporting that “There were 388,345 jobs posted for skilled trades-related workers between May and June (2021), a 50% increase from pre-pandemic levels”. They also note that the skilled trades industries were some of the few that grew almost every month during the pandemic.
If we consider construction industry surveys such as the 2020 Construction Outlook Survey, conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, we can safely conclude that many types of skilled trade workers are and will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.
For example, 81% of respondents to the 2020 Construction Outlook Survey said they were “having a hard time” when asked how they would describe their current situation filling salaried and hourly craft positions. Also, when asked “What percentage change do you expect in your headcount in 2020?” 52 percent expected an increase of up to 10%.
Skilled Trade Worker Shortage in the Future
Overall, employment growth is expected to be average in construction and extraction occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections data for 2019-29 indicates that employment levels in many skilled trade industries will grow faster or much faster than average. That includes careers in the electrical, plumbing, and iron-working industries.
Skilled Trades with Good Growth Potential
Electricians - Employment of electricians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, and that is much faster than the average for all occupations. That adds up to over 60,000 new electrician positions projected.
Construction Equipment Operators - Employment of construction equipment operators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, and that is close to the average for all occupations. That 4% adds up to almost 40,000 new positions projected.
Plumbers - Plumbers have seen a 129% growth in demand compared to pre-pandemic numbers. That’s according to PeopleReady’s analysis of millions of job postings. And according to the BLS, jobs in the plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter trades are projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Ironworkers - Overall employment of ironworkers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
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