The Skilled Worker Shortage: A Looming Threat to America’s Economic Future


Have you ever had difficulty finding a reliable carpenter, plumber, or other tradesman to do a job? It turns out that you are not the only one. Around a million trade jobs are currently unfilled.

The shortage of skilled workers in America is affecting the ability of construction and manufacturing businesses to complete their jobs and staff their businesses on time. This has led to a search for new talent pipelines for skilled workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 582,000 job openings in manufacturing and 374,000 in construction. The number of jobs in these two sectors has decreased by around 279,000 compared to the previous year. However, they still account for nearly one million of the 8.5 million available jobs.

There are a number of reasons for this, including the “Every kid must go to college” outlook, but attrition is bringing the issue to the fore:

“The problem that we’re facing today is that a lot of the workforce that’s been engaged in those roles is retiring and we’re not replenishing the workforce with new recruits into these jobs because the Millennial and Gen Z generations – they kind of grew up with a different idea in mind of what was a well-paying and what was a very meaningful job,” Aidan Madigan-Curtis, a partner at venture capital firm Eclipse, told FOX Business.

“They were taught to code, and that the future was digital. While we at Eclipse fully agree with the digitization and automation of many industries, the human factor still plays a major role in the interaction between humans and machines.

When you translate the phrase “human-machine interactions” into English it means “people using tools to fix/build things.”

Most trades are dominated by men – such as carpentry, plumbers, mechanics, roofers, and more. While young men attend college at a lower rate than young women do, it appears that they are not going into the trades either.

It wasn’t like this. My paternal grandpa (born in 1894) spent most of his working life as a Ford technician. He could fix everything. In his later years, he was an excellent carpenter who enjoyed fine woodworking. He also made wooden lamps as a hobby. My maternal grandfather was a farmer who had an interesting sideline. He used steel wire and turnbuckles to reinforce old, sagging buildings. Insurance companies in eastern Iowa would pay him to repair these old buildings, which were on foreclosed property. Dad (born in 1923) wasn’t a slouch either. When he first started farming and needed a cart, he and his brother took an older Model A Ford chassis and welded on a wagon tongue at the front. They then built a wooden box. This was in 1946. The wagon was still being used by my brother when he sold the country place in 2010. It was also sold at the equipment auction. I’m certain it is still in use.

I have many nephews. They are all unemployed. Most of them don’t even know how to change tires.

This is not good news for the country. My paternal grandpa also said, “A man who knows how to use his hands won’t have to worry where his next food is coming from.” He was a man who raised a family in the 1930s. We have two generations of young men who don’t know what to do with their hands because we failed to teach them in school and in society.

Of course, there are exceptions. My son-in-law, who is also an EMT volunteer firefighter, works in his father’s woodshop to build wood furniture and remodel homes and businesses. He is a positive role model for young men just like Elon Musk.

It seems that America has forgotten this somewhere along the line. I think we’ll be reminded pretty soon.