Chamber organizes initiative with RISD for trade school academies
America has a new job shortage in trade skills. For every five baby boomers retiring in a trade job only one new worker is available. That’s an astounding statistic recently reported by CBS News. Couple that with the havoc created by the recent hurricanes, and you have a labor crisis. Not in specialized H1-B, high-education, high-tech jobs, but in skilled trades, such as electrical, plumbing and construction.
This is not news to the Richardson Chamber of Commerce nor its members. After hearing from members about the difficulty in hiring highly skilled trade workers, the chamber is partnering with the school district to help build the future workforce in these areas. “We can serve as intermediary between education and industry as we help our members attract and retain the best employees,” said the chamber’s VP of membership, Drew Snow. In October, the chamber hosted 20 companies in the construction and skilled labor industries at a working lunch with the school district, Richland College, Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Attendees included repair companies, home builders and commercial contractors. “We all are finding it difficult hire qualified employees,” said Kirk Wilson of Deal Air Conditioning and Heating. He also is a member of the RCC Education Committee. “But we’re excited to work with RISD and their Career and Technical Education program.”
About 25 percent of RISD graduates do not go to college, said Masud Shamsid-Deen, executive director of RISD’s career and technical education. “We need to provide options so that every student graduating from an RISD high school has the skills to earn a living wage.”
RISD has already established training for automotive tech, cosmetology and culinary arts. Recently nursing and med tech was added allowing students to be immediately eligible for hire at Richardson Methodist Medical Centers and other full-service facilities. In addition, the Texas Education Agency will update curriculum in the next academic year.
Outcomes of the meeting included establishing a two-track course of action with part-time hiring of non-skilled high school students to work in areas like job prep, clean-up, etc. At the same time, curriculum for HVAC, electrician, plumbing, carpentry and more is being developed.
IEC and plumber’s union members offered to explore current TEA-approved curriculum to help create a certification of basic construction skills along with on-the-job training during high school resulting in a pipeline of entry level employees coming out of school prepared to work and without the debt of college.
Dallas County Community College District has been committed to providing skilled workers for a competitive local economy since it was founded in 1965. The seven colleges of DCCCD provide workforce training programs that are designed to educate and produce workers whose skills match current and projected economic demands.
RISD is fully supportive up through Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone and the chamber is acting as the connector and coordinator between the business community and the schools. If you wish to participate, please contact Drew Snow at 972-792-2805 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bloomberg: A nationwide focus on this challenge would be constructive, but ultimately skills-training partnerships must be created locally. Business leaders can take the initiative to work with local high schools, colleges and community-based organizations to develop curricula that would produce candidates with the skills needed to fill job openings.
PBS: The United States has 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree. People with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.
SHRM: "In manufacturing alone, six out of 10 positions go unfilled because of the skills gap, and 84 percent of manufacturers agree there is a talent shortage. What's worse is that if current projections continue, more than 6 million jobs will remain unfilled by the year 2020."
AEM: “A lot of people say, ‘This is not my problem.’ “It’s going to become your problem. You cannot expect someone else to solve the workforce development challenge. The skills gap we’re hearing about? That’s not someone else’s problem. You are part of the solution, and (you need to) get involved.”