Women in Construction 2022

Embracing Change

The construction workforce is changing and evolving in many positive ways. Most importantly, it is actively embracing diversity and technology. Despite recent changes, it still remains one of the most male-dominated industries in the world but even this is improving.

According to the BLS, women make up approximately 47 percent of the total workforce in the United States. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) report says that the number of women working in construction increased by 17.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, reaching well over a quarter of a million (276,000). The overall job growth stood at 3.7 percent in all construction occupations as a whole. 

Women currently occupy many support roles in the construction industry ranging from administrative assistance to on-site support. As of Dec. 31, 2018, approximately 1,106,919 women were employed in various occupation sectors of the construction industry. While that currently accounts for only 9.9% of U.S. construction workers, which is a relatively small percentage compared to other industries, there were still over 900,000 women workers employed throughout the construction industry (i.e., managerial, professional, administrative, and production employees) in 2018. Of those, approximately 276,000 were employed in production occupations, such as laborers, electricians, plumbers, etc. 

Gender Shift

Over the past 30 years, there have been dramatic changes in women’s participation in the U.S. labor force overall. In 1970, about 43 percent of women ages 16 and older were active in the labor force. By 2000, 61 percent of adult women were in the labor force. Over the same period, men’s labor force participation rates declined from 78 percent to 74 percent. These trends are part of broader changes in the labor force that have occurred since the middle of the 20th century. The rapid increase in women’s labor force participation, combined with the simultaneous decline in men’s participation, has closed much of the gender gap in the labor force. In 2000, about 47 percent of people in the labor force were women. If current trends continue, women will soon make up the majority of the U.S. work force. 

Where Are We Headed?

The continued skilled labor shortage continues to be a factor in the way that companies are recruiting and hiring new employees. As this trend continues, more hiring managers are looking to attract and hire a more diverse workforce. Today, construction companies hire women in various roles and responsibilities ranging from trade jobs to heavy machinery operations and construction management.

Numbers are continuing to rise as more and more women are joining the trades. Looking to the future, many see even more opportunities in the industry and enjoy the variety of work and impact it makes. 

Opportunities for Women in Construction

The construction industry as we know it today is wide open with opportunities for women. The industry as a whole has one of the lowest gender pay gaps  in the United States, with women in construction earning 95% of what their male counterparts earn. This is attractive to potential candidates when considering the average female worker makes 81.1% of what their male colleagues earn. 

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research paper, women are more likely to collaborate than men in a team based environment. This is a very important statistic, as construction projects generally require a high level of collaboration and coordinated teamwork. Hiring women increases the likelihood of that much needed teamwork and cooperation, leading to significant improvement in a company’s productivity, efficiency and profits as well as a boost to overall morale.

With changing dynamics, we are seeing more women in construction, smaller pay gaps, and increased opportunities for growth. If you want to get a job in this field, you need to build your skills and knowledge. There are many apprenticeship, scholarship and state-funded programs available today to help more women enter the construction trades.

Top five construction careers that don't require experience

Construction is a career path that many people don't realize they have the opportunity to pursue. The industry is always on the lookout for hardworking and talented professionals who are looking for an exciting, fast-paced, challenging job with great pay and benefits. Here are the top five construction careers you probably did not know you could get started in with no experience.

1) Construction Laborer

A construction laborer is only required to have a high school diploma. They are responsible for moving, installing and removing material during the building process. Laborers might also be tasked with loading and unloading trucks at an offsite location or working at a site directly constructing foundations (e.g., trenches). This position does not require any prior experience. You could get started with nothing more than a construction laborer training course or you can learn the basic knowledge required on the job.

The average starting for a construction laborer is $32,455 per year.

2) Carpenters and Joiners

Carpenters and joiners are responsible for constructing wooden structures. These positions require carpentry skills, as well as a high school diploma (or equivalent), in order to be successful at the job. Carpenters and Joiners will need to have completed apprenticeship programs or work experience before they can start working independently on building sites. Many companies will pay for the apprenticeship program and provide continuing education courses.

The average starting salary for a carpenter or joiner is $40,901 per year.

3) Bricklayers, Stonemasons, and Tile Setters

Masons are responsible for constructing buildings and other structures from brick, stone, concrete block, or tile. Bricklayers, Stonemasons, and Tile Setters need to have completed apprenticeship programs or work experience before they can start working independently on building sites. Try to find apprenticeship programs that are in your area by contacting local bricklayers or by searching the internet for apprenticeship programs in your area.

The average salary for a bricklayer, stonemason, or tile setter can range from $27,460 all the way up to $67,000 per year!

4) Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Tapers

Painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and tapers are all in the same trade and are responsible for painting or paperhanging an interior space. You need be 18 years of age to work on projects independently. Getting started does not have to be difficult. Some options for those looking to get their foot in the door include completing an apprenticeship program or working as a helper for a company.

Painters, paperhangers, plasterers and tapers make between $25,000 to $35,000 per year on average.

5) Drywall Installer/Hangster

The drywall installer/hanger is responsible for installing and hanging sheets of drywall on ceilings, walls, and floors.

Becoming a drywall installer/hanger does not have to be difficult. Some options include completing an apprenticeship program or working as a helper with the company you want to get hired by before trying out for work independently.

Drywall installers make between $39,000-$58,000 annually on average while those who hang sheetrock can do well at over $65K per year!

In conclusion

If you are a hardworking, talented individual who is looking for an exciting new career with great pay and benefits, construction may be the perfect fit. Whether you're just starting out in your professional life or have years of experience under your belt- there's plenty to do in this fast-paced industry that can offer something unique and rewarding.

The top five construction careers we've mentioned here should give you some good ideas if this sounds like it might be up your alley.

Want one last tip to get into the construction industry with zero experience? Download our Tradeworthy Jobs app today so that you never miss a company willing to train. It's free and available on both iOS and Android at: www.tradeworthyjobs.com/app

Skilled Trade Worker Shortage? Skip College and Learn a Trade

There continues to be an overall skilled trades worker shortage in America; or a skills gap. While getting your 4-year college degree seems to be “all the rage”, the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor & Statistics show that skilled trades such as welders and electricians once again top the latest list of the most difficult-to-fill job openings. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for all construction and extraction occupations was $47,430 in May 2019. That surpasses the median annual wage for all occupations ($39,810) by $7,620. That’s around a 20% increase.

The Trade Worker Shortage and Skills Gap

The lack of skilled trade workers has shifted from an emerging dilemma to an ongoing one. It seems largely the result of an educational system that continues to diminish the value and job satisfaction of working in the various trades. There is also a lack of communication about the benefits of working in trades and the often lucrative pay scales associated with being an electrician, carpenter, plumber, welder, etc.

Without serious influence and changes to how we view and run education, this ongoing “skills gap” can only get worse. This, in an industry already short on help. It isn’t uncommon to have a lot of job openings go unfilled for lack of qualified or willing candidates, even at times of high unemployment.

In a recent report by AGC and Sage Construction and Real Estate, 75% of those surveyed expected to add workers in 2020. The problem? 81% found it extremely difficult to fill open positions, and a majority anticipated even more difficulty in 2021 and beyond.

Skilled Trade Worker Positions in High Demand

The list of high-demand trade worker positions (and not getting filled) includes the Skilled Trades as well as IT staff, mechanics, nurses, and machinists. The Skilled Trades category includes, among others, construction workers, bricklayers, and electricians.

Based on this and similar reports we’ve read over the years, American employers seem to have more difficulty filling positions than their worldwide counterparts. This could be due to the American focus and glorification of college degrees and white-collar jobs. It often leads young people to expect a lot more for a lot less.

Making up for the Trade Worker Shortage

Companies, lacking enough skilled trade workers, turn to a variety of solutions when filling the skills gap. This leads to a need to deal with a two-pronged attack: losing workers to attrition and retirement and dealing with new workers who have less experience.

Many larger firms turn to internal investments to try and compensate. This includes using technology in new ways to reduce dependency on skilled workers or a depleted labor force; technology such as 3D printers, BIM (building information modeling) systems, drones, robotics, and more are often employes in an effort to slow this problem.

The other side of this involves changing construction methods to reduce labor. This may include pre-building components or the use of more serialized or simplistic construction methods.

How Do We Solve the Skills Gap?

  1. Encourage communication and education about the trades to young people, particularly at the middle school levels. You can do this by volunteering to speak at local schools or at your local school board meetings as an advocate. This really needs to occur before 9th grade when kids begin locking in plans to attend college.
  2. Spread the news to your friends and family. You have one voice, make it count. The trades offer a lot of job satisfaction. With the current deficit of workers, being a trade worker can help young people quickly earn decent money for a job well done.
  3. Educate young people on the true cost of college. College is for some—not everyone. On-the-job training and trade schools, however, typically cost far less than an average college degree. That even goes for community colleges. By entering the trades, young people can begin earning money sooner. They also pay down less student debt. Put it together, and they can bring their earned income to a much higher level more quickly.
  4. Hire young people and prepare your own company to educate and grow job skills. You have to walk the walk if you want the industry to change. Prepare your company for the patience, training, and programs required to encourage young people in the skilled trades.

DO YOU HAVE A FUTURE IN THE SKILLED TRADES?

The future can be built only by those who know how to build — and by “build,” we mean install heating, ventilating and air conditioning; flooring; appliances; and all the other modern amenities we rely on to keep our offices, homes, and communities running.

But by 2028, there will be an estimated 3 million job vacancies in the skilled trades.

Led by Lowe’s, Generation T is a new initiative that aims to close this gap by laying out a path to nurture the skills of talented tradespeople by connecting them to prospective apprenticeships and jobs.

HERE’S WHAT THE SKILLED LABOR SHORTAGE LOOKS LIKE TODAY:

69% of members of the National Association of Home Builders reported delays in construction projects due to a shortage of unqualified workers.

SO WHERE ARE ALL THE QUALIFIED TRADESPEOPLE?

Skilled trades professionals are nearing retirement. Nearly half of all U.S. electricians are projected to retire in the next 10 years with few trained to take their place.

As the next generation enters the workforce, the perception of valuable economic skills has shifted considerably. In many high schools today, you’re more likely to find a coding class than a shop class. But there’s no app that can compare to the human know-how required of an electrician or a plumber.

TECHNOLOGY & SKILLED TRADES WILL SHAPE OUR FUTURE:

The trades are just as vital to the future of our economy as tech companies. While startups might build their products in the cloud, they still need a physical space in which to collaborate, work, and bring ideas to life. That’s where skilled tradespeople come in.

DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH YOUR HANDS?

If the thought of attending a four-year university doesn’t feel like the right fit, the trades can provide a valuable alternative career path. You’ll enter the workforce faster and find yourself on a lucrative career path. Opening your own small business is even a possibility.

An electrician’s median starting salary is $59,100 compared with the $49,700 median starting salary of a college humanities major

HERE’S HOW TRADE SCHOOL STACKS UP AGAINST COLLEGE:

You can earn a trade school degree and enter the workforce in just2 years.

College lasts four years and could cost more than $154,000, taking into account loans and interest. By that calculation, five years into your career, your net earnings would be about: $79,000if you’d gone to trade school. -$107,000if you’d taken the college track since you’d likely be paying off loans for years.

Over the long haul, a trade school degree or pre-apprentice certification in the trades has the potential to give you a leg up on retirement savings, too: You could bank an additional $22,000 in savings by entering the workforce two years earlier. [SOURCE]

Finding success in skilled trades

Skilled trades are occupations that require special skills, knowledge or abilities.

Often, these skills can be obtained with less schooling (and debt) than a four-year degree. Many people associate trades with the manufacturing and construction industries. However, they can be found in technology, energy and health care as well.

Traditional pathways

The following scenario is typical for today’s high school student: they research universities in their junior or senior year, graduate high school, attend university for four or more years, graduate, hopefully find employment and earn a pay check. And start paying their student loans.

Research shows on average, the more you learn, the more you earn.

Despite high tuition costs, a four-year degree can be a sound investment and a great pathway to a satisfying career. But not the only way. Students, parents, teachers and counselors need to be aware of alternative paths to good-paying jobs and viable careers.

The path to a skilled trade career

There is no “one way” to pursue a career in the trades, but an important first step for anyone is to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

While you won’t need a four-year degree, you will typically need some kind of post-secondary education (trade, vocational or technical school, career college), an apprenticeship or on-the-job training.Support Local and be an Ohio HeroAd by Ohio. Find It Here.See More

The saying “the more you learn, the more you earn” applies here as well, but often that learning is paid for by the employer. Apprenticeships and other on-the-job trainings are common among West Michigan employers.

These popular programs, pay you to learn from professionals in a work environment while receiving classroom training.

Skills for life

Muskegon employer, GE Aviation, relies on apprenticeship programs to help employees gain the skills and certifications they need to succeed.

One of their employees, Aldo Gonzalez-Ramierez, applied for and was awarded an apprenticeship with the tool making team in January 2019.

He works full time to complete the 8000 hours of on-the-job training and is taking multiple classes per semester at Muskegon Community College — paid for by his employer.

When he finishes, Aldo will be a registered U.S. Department of Labor journeyman tool maker with a pay rate over $30 an hour. According to Aldo, ”[These skills] are definitely something I can have for the rest of my life and be valuable wherever I go.”

5 Tips for a Successful Career Change into a Skilled Trade

Wish your work was more meaningful? Feel like your skills could be put to a better use than in your current job? Always had bigger and better dreams for yourself?

You’re not alone. These are some of the reasons Americans change careers.[1]

If you’ve heard about the skilled trades shortage and are thinking of turning in your suit and tie for a hard hat and tool belt, consider these 5 tips to help make the transition successfully.

Tips for Pursuing a Career in a Skilled Trade

We hear about people changing careers often, but how common is it, really? We don’t know the exact number because economists, sociologists and other experts can’t agree on what constitutes a career change.[2]

But most people think of a career change as leaving your established occupation for another, different one: for example, moving from a job in architecture and engineering to one in construction and extraction.[3]

Have You Considered a Career in Welding or HVAC?

What makes for a successful career change? Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offered some advice for changing occupations.  Let’s consider these tips in the context of a transition into the skilled trades.

Tip 1: Find Out Why You Want to Change Careers

The first step to changing careers is determining why you want to leave your current occupation. What makes you unhappy? Sitting all day at a desk in an office?

Then a career in the trades could be a good change. Welders, HVAC technicians and electricians tend to move around a lot in their jobs and some work outdoors.[4][5][6] They’re considered to have active jobs—if that’s what you’re looking for.

Work Values and Interests

Work values and interests are two important considerations. Similar to how you may have personal values like honesty and hard work, you can also have specific parts of your job that you find rewarding and meaningful. These can range from how much independence you have to your annual salary.

Welders, for example, help manufacture many important products, including ships, cars and airplanes. Welding plays an essential role in the construction of bridges, buildings, power plants and pipelines.[7] Metal fusing professionals may find satisfaction not only in playing such a vital role, but also in healthy wages and job security.[8]

People’s interests can vary greatly, from movies and culture to motorsports and mechanics. Aligning your interests with your career can lead to greater satisfaction, especially if others in that field share those interests, too.[9]

If you’re interested in building and fixing things, then you might consider working in the construction trades.[10]

Tip 2: Get the Facts about the Career You’re Considering

hvac technician type of work

How promising is the career you’re considering shifting to? Looking at job growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to start.

The national average job growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.[11] Let’s see how some skilled trades careers stack up.

You can also use the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out what the training requirements for the occupations are. For example, a combination of formal welding training at a technical school and on-the-job instruction is typically required to become a welder.[18]

Knowing if you’ll need to go back to school in order to change careers is an important consideration. Fortunately, welding training can be completed in as little as seven months. The training for many other trades also typically requires less time than a bachelor’s degree.[19][20]

Tip 3: Meet People Working in the Industry You Want to Enter

Sure, you can look up plenty of data about skilled trades occupations, but nothing beats talking to a real welder or electrician. Check your circle of family and friends to see if anyone knows a tradesman or woman you can chat with. Prepare a list of questions you have about the industry like, “What did you like most about your work today?”

Meeting people already working in manufacturing or construction can also help you establish internal contacts who may be able to let you know about job openings or give you referrals for positions.

Tip 4: Align Your Skills With the Career

Changing careers can often require learning new skills. Determining the skills you already have first can help you figure out what you need to learn to enter the new occupation.

Take an inventory of the skills you’ve acquired from school, hobbies, past jobs and volunteer work. Identify skills gaps and how to close them in order to enter your new field.[21]

What skills do you need to enter a skilled trade? It depends on the specific trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers required skills in the “How to Become One” tab of its career profiles.

Tip 5: Continue Researching

Changing careers can be a big decision, so make sure it’s an informed one. Keep researching the skilled trade you’re considering entering until you have all the facts.

Besides the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can also check the Occupational Information Network for career facts and statistics.

With many employers struggling to find skilled trades workers, news agencies have been covering the shortage. Searching for information about these specific trades online or about the skills gap might also yield unbiased articles that shed light on the current state of trades occupations in the U.S.

Change Careers with Confidence

Since we spend so much time at our jobs and rely on them to pay our bills with, changing occupations can be scary. Will you like the work? Does it pay enough? Is there job security?

These are all important questions. Researching the answers to them can help you feel confident in your decision when you’re ready to transition into a skilled trade.

Manufacturing is facing a growing skills gap that is leaving hundreds of thousands of positions open

KEY POINTS

NEWBERRY, S.C. — While concerns about a potential manufacturing slowdown swirl in the face of an ongoing trade war, the sector is facing a bigger and more immediate problem — a growing skills gap that is leaving hundreds of thousands of positions open.

The National Association of Manufacturers said a record 522,000 jobs remained open in the sector in September. The group signed the “Pledge to America’s Workers” this summer in conjunction with the Trump administration, committing to training 1.86 million workers in the next five years to address the shortage of skilled workers.

Those workers will be needed in droves. A report published last year by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte found that 4.6 million jobs will need to be filled in the sector over the next decade, and 2.4 million jobs may be left open due to a lack of trained workers. The shortage of workers has been the top concern in the industry for the past six quarters, according to NAM’s outlook.

“Manufacturers all across the country and every manufacturing sector are facing the hiring challenge,” said Carolyn Lee, the institute’s director. “They need people with technical skills, with technical aptitude, but with an interest in learning, and continually learning the new technologies that come online.”

As baby boomers retire in a tight labor market, Lee said, a major problem in attracting younger workers is the misperception of the work itself. Manufacturing has become more high tech and efficient in recent years. To help solve the issue, manufacturers like Samsung opened their doors on Friday for Manufacturing Day, to invite students to see the work for themselves and potentially generate interest in a career in the sector.

Samsung’s 2-year-old plant here employs 800 workers and will need 200 more in the next two years. Entry pay is $13 an hour, and benefits include medical insurance, 401(k) plans and tuition reimbursement, plus opportunities to move up the ladder.

“So we’ve got a challenge, both short term and long term. Short term, it’s at a time of record-low unemployment. How can we find talent for our workforce?” said David Steel, executive vice president of Samsung America. “Outreach is very important to get kids in the future workforce interested in what we’re doing in manufacturing.”

Rodney Ridley is a supervisor at Samsung’s plant in Newberry, South Carolina, where some 200 workers will be needed in the next two years.Kate Rogers | CNBC

The company has invested upwards of half a billion dollars in the space, Steel said. While tariffs are a short-term headwind, demand is there for products, and the company is planning for the long haul.

Sherri Satterfield, director of human resources at the Newberry plant, said the biggest challenge is in finding workers who are up for the job.

“We’re pulling candidates from all over the surrounding counties, and they don’t always have that experience,” she said. “So it takes them a while to get acclimated to it. Some of them decide that it’s not for them, and then other ones they activate, they’re here for a good amount of time.”

Samsung is working with local colleges and trade schools to attract workers, and looking to recruit more veterans like Rodney Ridley. The 61-year-old Army vet has been in manufacturing for years, watching technology change the way products are made. As a production supervisor, he manages a team of 68. The job is a mix of hard and soft skills, something he hopes to instill in future generations of workers.

“The associates, this is what pays their bills and feeds their families. For me to let them know what’s important to them — they need to be here. I need to be on the ground and they are an essential part of my team, for them to do that is an accomplishment to me,” Ridley said.

20 Best Scholarships for Trade School Students in 2020

Scholarships for Trade School

Trade school grants and scholarships are the most common financial aid options for trade school students. The following lists the scholarships for tech schools and vocational colleges:

2nd Chance Scholarship

The American Fire Sprinkler Association is an advocate of life-saving automatic fire sprinklers. The association assists contractors in implementing the best life-saving strategies and technologies, conducting training and workshops, and correcting misunderstandings about fire safety procedures. AFSA also hosts training sessions in academic institutions.

AFSA offers high school scholarship programs to high school seniors who are planning to pursue a trade degree program at an accredited trade school, college or university. The scholarship amounting to $2000 is reimbursed directly to the academic institution, and students must be enrolled full-time not later than the fall semester of the application year.

Women in Skilled Trades Scholarship Program-RSI

The Refrigeration School is a more than 50-year old trade school headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a very extensive trade school and receives regional accreditation as well as offering select programs for students with the desire to work in the trades.

RSI’s Women in Skilled Trades Scholarship Program offers financial assistance to the most deserving female students who demonstrate financial need. All-female students who are studying or will study in the Refrigeration School in Arizona are eligible for the scholarship program. Applications are open all year round.

ACCE-Dupree Construction Education Fund Scholarship

The American Council for Construction Education’s mission is to be the leading international advocate of quality construction education. They support, promote, and accredit top-quality construction education programs. ACCE provides accreditation to colleges and universities that educate professionals in the construction industry. The Council also advocates safe industry standards.

Applicants for the Dupree Construction Education Fund and the National Housing Endowment Scholarship must be enrolled in a Master’s, Ph.D., or advanced construction-related degree, in a college, university or trade school with an ACCE-accredited program.

Women in HVAC/R Scholarship

Women in HVAC/R provides three $2,000 scholarships per year, including one for Technical College or Trade School, one for a Baccalaureate’s degree program at a four-year academic institution, and one for a distance education program that covers air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, and ventilation.

All of the WHVAC/R Scholarship Programs are open to women in high school or post-secondary education, aspiring to join the HVAC/R field by any of the above means.

American Fire Sprinkler Association

The American Fire Sprinkler Association’s objective is to inform the public about how automatic fire sprinklers can save lives. The association assists contractors in implementing life-saving strategies and technologies, conducts training and workshops, corrects misconceptions about fire safety procedures, and provides essential information to academic institutions.

The AFSA offers high school scholarship programs to high school seniors who are planning to pursue a trade degree program at an accredited trade school, college or university. The $2000 scholarship is reimbursed directly to the academic institution, and students must be enrolled full-time within the fall semester of the application year.

PHCC Educational Foundation

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling field is related to new talent to continue to develop as a highly-skilled and sustainable profession. The PHCC Educational Foundation has the mission of assisting students in the specified trades to achieve their educational goals and be prosperous in their field. Forty-one scholarships are awarded per year, including students in the distance education program.

Eligible applicants are those full-time in an HVAC/R or Plumbing Apprenticeship Program that is a member of the Plumbing-Heat-Cooling-Contractors National Association and practicing with a licensed contractor. One of the requirements includes a letter from a high school principal and a letter of recommendation from a member of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors National Association.

ASHRAE Undergraduate Engineering Scholarships

The Association for the Science of HVAC, Refrigeration, and Engineering is an organization that advocates industry excellence and sets industry principles in the related field. It also promotes a viable world by enriching the science of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration.

ASHRAE provides ten different scholarship programs for engineering students. Scholarships are granted to undergraduate students who are studying full-time in a post-secondary education school and who are pursuing a Bachelor of Science or Engineering program in the course of study in provision for the HVAC/R industry. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 at the minimum to qualify for the scholarship program.

NAWIC Founders Scholarships

Through its Founders Scholarship Program, the National Association of Women in Construction began offering financial assistance in 1963. Women in construction-related programs have access to national and regional chapter trade scholarship opportunities.

Automotive Hall of Fame Scholarship for Automotive Students

To pay it forward and give back to the automotive community, the Automotive Hall of Fame offers financial aid to full-time students of an accredited trade school in an automotive field. Awards are reimbursed immediately to the chosen school’s tuition and fees.

Merchants Exchange of Portland Scholarship

The Merchant Maritime Exchange Scholarship Fund was founded to improve the fields of maritime affairs and global trades, by helping students who are on an academic path towards success in related disciplines. Applicants must be enrolled in a four- or two-year post-secondary degree with an emphasis on Maritime Affairs or International Trade. All applications must be submitted online. The amount of scholarship funds is merit-based and score level. It can be used for tuition fees, books, and other program-related expenses.

Dwyer Group Women in Trades Scholarship

Dwyer Group provides scholarships to women in trades to be settled to the accredited trade school of her choice. The $1,500 scholarship is awarded two times per year, to a total of six women per year.

Flax Dental Scholarship

Georgia High School students planning to pursue any field of discipline in a two-year community college or trade school can get a $1,000 scholarship from Flax Dental. Applicants should submit a 400- or 600-word essay on the topic “Why My Teacher Makes Me Smile” talking about a current or former teacher who has inspired them in a meaningful way.

Home Depot Homer Fund Scholarship

The Home Depot Foundation aspires to give back to the communities who make their work possible. The Home Depot Trade School Scholarship grants $2,500 each to 1,000 students. The scholarship program is available to kids of Home Depot Associates who have been in the company for at least a year. Winners may reapply the following year.

Union Plus

Union’s current and retired members, as well as immediate family members, are qualified for scholarship programs ranging from $500 to $4,000 for their post-secondary education in community colleges, and trade and vocational schools.

CIRI Foundation

The CIRI Foundation advocates and upholds culture and heritage of Alaska Natives from the Cook Inlet state. It provides several vocational training grants of up to $4,500 per year to a CIRI original candidate or direct lineal successor.

Central Scholarship

Central Scholarship provides scholarships to students planning on pursuing a non-degree certificate program at a career school or community college. These programs are specifically targeted to students who live in or nearby Baltimore.

Dr. Gussie M. Ware Memorial Scholarship

Dr. Gussie M. Ware Memorial Scholarships are provided to high school graduates about to begin their college education who are African-American. Applicants must have at least a GPA 2.5 and permanent residency status in Winnebago County.

ABA Diversity Scholarship

The American Bus Association grants two $2,500 scholarships for the under-represented students enrolled in transportation-, travel-, or tourism-related industries. Applicants must submit a 500-word essay and must have completed their first year of college at an accredited school or community college.

American Indian Graduate Center Scholarship

The American Indian Graduate Center offers scholarships to graduate students who need financial assistance and is a member of the American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group.

AMS Minority Scholarship

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) provides scholarships to minority students traditionally under-represented in the field of sciences.

Here's Why Your Kid Should Go Into the Trades

Skilled trade positions are currently the hardest to fill in the United States and around the world.

The trades are definitely a solid bet for anyone looking for a secure and profitable career. According to a survey conducted by ManpowerGroup, trade positions are currently the hardest to fill in the United States and around the world. Specifically, the top ten positions with the largest shortages include carpenters, framers, bricklayers/masons, concrete workers, drywallers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, painters and excavators.

Young people aren't pursuing careers in the trades

According to Jennifer Weber, EVP of human resources for Lowe's, the home improvement retailer conducted a survey that found that only five percent of parents in the U.S. expect their high school-aged students to pursue a career in the skilled trades. She also points out that the number of people showing an interest in a skilled trade is dwindling as more high schools have pulled back on offering construction-based shop classes. At the same time, 3 million skilled trades positions are predicted to be open by 2028.

The trades have a lot to offer

Consider a variety of opportunities, getting to work with your hands, high demand, good salaries, benefits and job security. That's according to Robin Fleming, co-founder, and CEO of Anvl, a workforce first safety solutions software company, who says that because of the growing skilled labor shortage companies needing workers are motivated to recruit, train and retain workers and are offering competitive perks, benefits and salaries to fill positions. And because hands-on training often happens on the job, young people can quickly figure out if a path is a good fit and adjust if it's not. That's compared with investing four years into college to get a desk job which they may or may not like.

Jobs and training programs are easy to find

Weber says young people can learn on the job straight out of high school, or get some kind of formal training or certification before trying to get hired. For its employees, Lowe's offers a "Track to the Trades" program which pays for tuition as they complete a pre-apprentice certification in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing and appliance repair. Once certified, Lowe's then helps them get jobs within its installation network.

In addition, Lowe's and more than 60 national partners launched a "Generation T" program earlier this year which aims to connect high schoolers and people wanting a career change with opportunities in the trades. At WeAreGenerationT.com anyone considering the trades can get information about what the work in a particular field involves, what the earning potential is and input a ZIP code to find nearby jobs and training programs.

Fleming adds that several U.S. legislatures are actively working to address the skilled trade labor shortage with a number of bills that were introduced in 2019.

How to Become a Skilled Tradesperson

Want a job?

The demand for most trades is strong and getting stronger. The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts healthy growth in the neighborhood of 8 to 9 percent over the next decade. Jobs associated with building and rebuilding roads, bridges, water, and the power grid are expected to grow by double-digit percentages—faster than the overall economy. Jobs for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are projected to grow 16 percent during this same time period. And projected employment growth across all occupations is 7.4 percent. Construction, the mechanical trades, and industrial occupations like welding are in-demand trades that could mean either a stable career or a launching pad. You might start out swinging a hammer but it could lead to project management, environmental analysis, sales, education, or engineering. I met a bunch of these people in the course of writing this article. And, by the way, that’s how I found my way here. This story is going to tell you how you can do it, too. (Check out our companion article, The State of American Trade Schools, for more info.)

“THE TRADES ARE NOT MERELY AN ALTERNATIVE TO COLLEGE. A TRADE IS EQUAL TO COLLEGE."

The postwar era in America was one of unparalleled white-collar growth. Thus both public and private high schools were deemed most successful if they graduated students to college. But college costs have risen sharply and continue to rise. Forbes concluded a year ago that college tuition is rising nearly eight times faster than wages. A four-year degree is still deemed valuable, but you’ve got to be able to afford it with a minimum of debt and it has to be the basis of a well-paying job when you exit. If not, you’re stuck.

Given a decades-old institutional bias toward college, it’s not surprising that trades teachers feel like they’re constantly playing second fiddle. “Our biggest challenge today is that guidance counselors push every student into college,” says Jim Reid, director of apprenticeships for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Tim Baber, professor of manufacturing technology at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, echoes that. Speaking about his high-school-age son, he says, “All he hears is college, college, college.” Oddly enough, the trades bear some responsibility. As the construction industry waxed and waned over the years, one of the places it looked to cut costs was training. This led to a shortage of helpers and apprentices. “Journeymen did everything themselves. That worked for a while, but you see where that got us,” says William Fuller, craft development manager for the Houston-area Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation, the educational affiliate of the trade association Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Fuller should know. He was recently named Craft Instructor of the Year, no small achievement for a guy who started out at 13 digging ditches with a shovel. He went on to become a heavy-equipment operator, carpenter, boilermaker, rigger, and crane operator.

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“It’s a huge generation shift, away from ‘Boys can do this and girls can’t.’” Bianca Criollo-­Cruz, 27, welding instructor MOHAMED SADEK

ABC contractors are also on the front lines of getting students prepared as early as possible, while they’re still in high school. Trained high school graduates are deemed “trade ready” when they can read a set of plans, set up a job, and work with journeymen. They may stay with their trades training to pursue journeyman status, exit to college, or pursue both. A blended profession consisting of college and trades education that’s achieved incrementally, without college debt, is appealing to many and a smart way to hedge your bets. “The trades are a way to earn and learn,” IAM’s Reid says. “They’re a way to still have college available to you. It’s a way to secure your future.” He started out as an auto-body mechanic, became a machinist, and went on to get two bachelor’s degrees, one in labor studies and another in education.

Another example of the trades-college track is our longtime trades advisor, Pat Porzio, a second-generation tradesman with three trade licenses (electrical contractor, master plumber, and master HVAC); he also has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Today he’s HVAC manager for Russo Bros. & Co., a plumbing and HVAC company in East Hanover, New Jersey.

Finally, consider Dan Maurer, a journeyman pipefitter with United Association Local 190, a plumber and pipe trades union in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s one class away from an associate degree in applied science. He left general construction and carpentry to pursue the mechanical trades and today does welding, plumbing, and medical gas piping for Boone & Darr, a mechanical contractor in Ann Arbor. A rock-solid middle-class breadwinner, Maurer is the sole support for his stay-at-home wife and two young daughters, no small feat today for any young family.

A future in the trades begins even before you graduate high school, he says: “Pay attention while you’re in public school to the education that’s right in front of you. It’s free. It’s a gift. When you go on from there to pursue a trade, remember that whatever you put into it is what you get out of it.”

I’ll leave the final words of advice and encouragement to Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of environment, health, safety, and workforce development. His advice is directed as much at the parents as the students. “Parents shouldn’t push kids who are performing poorly in the classroom toward a future in construction, assuming that the student won’t need math or communication skills. We want not only the best student, we want the right student.”

“The trades,” said Sizemore, “are not merely an alternative to college. A trade is equal to college. If you’re a Ph.D. and you’re at home on a Saturday night in July and your air conditioner quits, the smartest person around is somebody who can fix that air conditioner. The trades are one of the most noble career choices that any individual can make. Banks would not be built. Buildings to house machines, hospitals, and any other structure would not be built without the trades. It’s a career choice, not just a job.”