ELYRIA, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A recent survey by RIDGID, a leading supplier of professional grade tools, reveals that a scant six percent of high school students hope to have a future career in the skilled trades—defined as plumbers, carpenters, electricians, heating, ventilation or air conditioning installers, or repair people.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2014 the U.S. will need 29 percent more HVACR and 21 percent more plumbing technicians, a total of more than 100,000 skilled workers in the job pool. Among the 500,000 plumbers in the United States alone, the demand is expected to grow 10 percent by 2016, however, due to an aging generation of skilled professionals, more than a third of all plumbers – or approximately 167,000 workers – will be exiting the workforce.
“The economy hit construction hard, no doubt,” says Fred Pond, President, of RIDGID. “However, the realities of an aging infrastructure, urbanization and a mature workforce all remain. When this turns around, and it will, demand for skilled labor will be significant.”
“There is definitely a shortage of skilled plumbers,” said Brian Shields, owner of Brian Shields Plumbing Inc. “I’ve been a plumber for 20 years and there are no skilled plumbers in my area that I feel comfortable employing. I had to travel to another state to find someone who was willing to learn the trade. I’m one of a dying breed.”
“On-site labor is one thing that can not be outsourced,” says Wyatt Kilmartin, director, RIDGID branding. “Young people need to know that historically there is a high demand and great future potential – including the opportunity to own and operate your own business – that comes with a career in the skilled trades.”
The survey was conducted by KeyStat Marketing and Greenfield Online to ensure statistical integrity. The nationwide sample was divided between 80 percent males and 20 percent females, for a total sample size of 1,023. All respondents were high school students’ age 14 to 18 years who were currently enrolled in 9th through 12th grade.
From the pool of 94 percent of students who are not interested in pursuing a career in the trades, respondents revealed multiple factors that may be hindering them, such as a lack of knowledge about the industry, and the overall perception of the skilled trades.
Why Students Are Not Interested in the Skilled Trades:
In addition, all students who were surveyed revealed their impressions of jobs in the skilled trades.
Where Young People Want To Work:
So, what’s the number one field of interest for graduating seniors? RIDGID’s survey results show 25 percent of students hope to work in a career with computers or the Internet. The next most popular fields of interest include business (16 percent), engineering (15 percent), healthcare, defined as doctors, nurses, assistants, technicians (15 percent) and the entertainment/arts field, defined as actor, musician, TV anchor, reporter, producer (15 percent).
“The problem with kids not pursuing a career in the skilled trades is largely because they are not introduced to it,” said Mark Yochim, licensed Plumbing Contractor and owner of Mark A. Yochim and Associates. “When I was in school 40 years ago, you could pick up a class in industrial arts and get a feel for working with tools. Today, kids don’t have that opportunity.”
Based on RIDGID’s survey results, there appears to be an opportunity to draw a new audience into the skilled trades, but education is key. Whether or not their high school offers vocational classes and if the student knows someone working in the skilled profession affects students’ interest in the trades.
Perceptions of the skilled trades after students were educated:
Industry leaders are working hard to help bolster the image of the industry by educating students about the benefits of a career in the skilled trades. RIDGID created the PROFuture program to help educate students about the skilled trades. “PROFuture started in response to the lack of young people entering the trades and filling jobs,” said Kilmartin. “It is designed to reinforce the decision of those joining the trades and educate those people yet to make a decision. We are going to need them.”
RIDGID is a subsidiary of Emerson (NYSE: EMR), based in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to create innovative solutions for customers through its network power, process management, industrial automation, climate technologies, and appliance and tools businesses. Sales in fiscal 2008 were $24.8 billion. For more information, visit www.Emerson.com.