Trade industry understaffed, in need of trained workers

A new report released by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 75 percent of contractors want to add workers in 2018. Over half of those companies say they're having a tough time filling those positions with trained applicants.

The executive director of Shasta Builders Exchange, Joe Chimenti, went to a four-year college himself, but says he knows it isn't for everyone and isn't always the best choice.

"Over the last 20 years, we've shifted away from trade training and focused a lot on college education," Chimenti said. "I'm very supportive of college education, but it's not for everyone and we've created this gap in the skilled trades."

The gap is coming to light as the United States starts to rebuild after all of the natural disasters that happened in 2017 such as hurricanes and wildfires.

Some of the originally thought of as "blue collar" jobs have increased in qualifications and pay giving them a new name.

"In the industry now, there is no longer blue collar and white collar it's called 'new collar' and new collar careers are those careers that require technical skills to be successful but do not require a college degree," Chimenti said.

Skipping out on a 4 year University means skipping the high tuition and possible debt.

The price of a trade school education is significantly less than that of a 4 year college.

Shasta Builders Exchange program, along with several other programs, is "learn as you earn" which means some of the hours you spend working hands-on for school, are paid.

Chementi said the rate of hire after graduating from Shasta Builders Exchange is almost 90 percent. He also said the chances of working up to a six figure salary in the trade industry are "quite high".

Because there's more of a need for workers, some businesses have increased their base pay to bring in applicants.

Money isn't always the leading decision for applicants, some report feeling too old or not physically capable to do the jobs.

"Certainly there's a physical aspect, but there's a lot more intellectual aspects that you need to have," Chementi said. "This is coming from an older guy, age should never be an obstacle. As long as you're willing to work hard and understand that there is a commitment involved you can be successful."

There are several trade schools in the Northstate. In Shasta County, Shasta Builders Exchange is still enrolling as well as the Institute of Technology.

Shasta Builders Exchange has an opportunity for people to sponsor a "New Collar Scholar" here.

Chementi said it's a skill set that will always be of use.

"You have a skill set that nobody can take away from you and no economy can take away from you because good economy or bad economy, people still want drinking water, they still want electricity, they still want a roof over their heads, they still want toilets that flush, they will always want that."

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