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Trades Facts

Know the Facts!

Why is there a shortage of Trade Workers?

The trade industry is facing an employment crisis. Put simply, there are not enough trade workers to fill our nation's jobs. Three main factors are contributing to the employment crisis in trade and construction industries:

FACT 1: More funding has been allocated to infrastructure projects in the U.S. driving the need for more trade and construction workers.

FACT 2: Workers currently in trade careers are retiring and there are not enough new workers to replace them.

FACT 3: Schools no longer have vocational programs so students don't know about the benefits of a career in the trades.

With increased demand for trade and construction workers, there has never been a better time to consider a career in the trades.

 

TRADE INDUSTRY STATS

Check out these statistics on employment in the trade and construction industries.

89%
of contractors report having trouble finding workers
61%
of contractors report project delays due to workforce shortages
68%
more infrastructure job openings exist than there are people to fill them
10%
of all job openings are infrastructure related
50%
of current trade workers are 50 years or older
16%
of young people would consider a trade career
27%
of young people understand the steps to embarking on a trade career
78%
of mothers don't think trades are a good career path

HISTORY OF TRADE CRISIS

Several significant events in the past few decades have contributed to the trade crisis.

1
1917: Smith-Hughes Act authorizes federal funding for vocational schools in the US
2
1950s: Vocational students represent 25% of all secondary students
3
1963: Vocational Education Act increases student access to CTE programs
4
1980s: States mandate students take additional academic courses decreasing CTE enrollment
5
1984: Vocational Education Act is renamed to Carl D. Perkens Act
6
2001: No Child Left Behind Act leads to start of decreased vocational/CTE education funding
7
2009: CTE credits earned by high school students drops by 14%
8
2012: Carl D. Perkins Act expires
9
2015: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) shifts school funding to academic standards further reducing vocational funding
10
2018: President Trump reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Act allocating $1.2B for CTE programs
11
2011-2021: Over 2.7 million infrastructure workers retire
12
2021: Congress passes $65 billion Infrastructure Bill leading to increased construction projects

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION TRENDS VS. CONSTRUCTION RELATED EMPLOYMENT TRENDS

VOCATIONAL VS. ACADEMIC CREDITS

Year Avg. Credits Earned by High School Graduates 0 4.6
4.61982
4.41987
4.11990
3.81992
3.82000
3.22009
3.32019

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION TRENDS DOWN

Beginning in the 1980s, vocational education in schools began to decline. School curriculum focused more on math, English and science and less on technical education. As this shift in education continued throughout the 1990s, 2000s and today, high school graduate earned fewer and fewer credits technical education and more and more credits in academic courses.

Students in schools today not only receive less education in vocational skills, but receive less exposure to trades as a whole. Many high school students graduate without a good understanding of what the trades are and the career opportunities that may exist in these fields.

EMPLOYMENT IN CONSTRUCTION RELATED INDUSTRIES TRENDS UP

In the past four decades, the number of jobs in construction-related industries has steadily grown. Today employment in the construction fields has doubled since the early 1980s.

The demand for workers is projected to continue growing, making the need for skilled tradespeople vitally important.

CONSTRUCTION RELATED JOBS

Individuals Employed (thousands) Year 0 7859
39481982
51801987
50471990
46301992
67922000
56542009
66302015
75282019
73552020
75942021
78592022