Major shortage of trade workers, chamber of commerce explains why

Posted at 6:08 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 20:08:42-04

Uncle Sam wants you…that is…to become a tradesperson.

Currently, there is a huge need for manufacturers, welders, electricians, and other positions in the Pikes Peak region. 

News 5 learned that the reason for the shortage is people simply not knowing about the opportunities in trade fields. Beyond that, it’s the question of what kind of education to get after high school. 

The typical move for a lot of high school grads is to go to a four-year university or college and get a degree. However, Tammy Fields, chief economic development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, says it’s not always the best path. 

"They come out with a lot of debt and maybe don’t even have a job to go to or something that is really all that interesting to them."

Joshua Brown said, "I know some of my friends who have a four-year degree and it took them months just to get an interview."

That’s not the case for Brown. He is studying heating, ventilation, and air conditioning at Pikes Peak Community College. He’s graduating this week with an associate’s degree and a job already waiting for him. 

"It’s such a need and everybody in the trade field has so many openings that they’re willing to give you a start no matter what type of experience you have."

For Brown, getting into the trades field took some time. 

"I really wish that schools would have trade programs…when I was in high school if I had a trade program or something to lead me in that field of trades I know for a fact that 18-year-old Josh would’ve loved that."

The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is working to fix this issue by focusing heavily on workforce development. 

Fields said, "We do talk to companies and they tell us we have huge workforce needs so we’re trying to help them carry the message to the higher education institutions as well as those K-12 partners."

The hope is to spark an interest in students at a younger age in fields of work that are meaningful to us all. 

Fields said, "You want your house built. You want your building built safely…your engineer is doing that, but you also need the workers that are out there putting it together to do the best job that they can."

Brown says another plus of working in the trades field is the money he’ll be making. He says some people start off by earning $20 an hour. In a few short years they are making over $30 an hour.