February is national Career and Technical Education month, and across the country educators and counselors are preparing America’s next generation of skilled workers. In just a few months, students will graduate from high school, and many aren’t sure of their next step. Florida’s construction contractors face a related but different problem: a major shortage of skilled labor.
For many Floridians, learning a skilled trade is an excellent alternative or addition to college. The construction industry has provided excellent career opportunities for Americans over generations, and with the growth forecast in the industry, skilled craft professionals are in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry is projected to grow at twice the rate of all other industries combined in the coming years.
In addition to being an industry of ample opportunity, construction is among the few industries that provide the chance to earn money while establishing a career. Most construction apprenticeship programs – including the four-year programs in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet metal, sprinkler fitting, and HVAC at Associated Builders and Contractors – offer the opportunity to earn a wage while working and taking classes in a classroom. This means that when apprentices graduate, they are ready to begin working fulltime at good wages in their chosen industry, and can do so without the burden of paying off student loans. To top it all off, a recent study found that construction workers are the happiest employees of any industry.
When you combine these factors, an industry full of opportunity, the chance to earn money while learning the skills necessary to be successful and a high level of worker satisfaction, the construction industry makes sense for a lot of people. If you or a loved one are looking for a career and not just a job, consider construction.
Steve Cona III is the president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. Column courtesy of Context Florida.