America is dealing with an unprecedented shortage of skilled labor. The Department of Labor reports that while there are 7.6 million unfilled jobs, only 6.5 million people were looking for work. This is the same situation in Arizona.
The industries seeing the largest talent gap are construction, healthcare and personal care, followed by computer and mathematical occupation. Better than average employment and a shortage of employable workers may leave the Arizona economy in a tough spot.
Career and Technical Education programs may be the answer. CTE program education gives students the academic, technical and employability skills needed for workplace success.
A local Arizona CTE public school district is preparing more than 37,000 students from 48 high schools in the North and West Phoenix Metropolitan area with the skills and certifications needed to obtain careers in the industries that desperately need young talent to help replace an aging group of tradespeople who are getting ready to retire.
The skills gap in construction is well known. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age, leaving a large space for younger workers to step in. In fact, according to the 2019 Wells Fargo Construction Industry Forecast, the utmost cost concern of contractors was access to qualified workers.
CTE programs, like the one at Western Maricopa Education Center help to prepare students to enter both the commercial and residential construction industries. Students learn about safe work practices, construction diagrams, concrete and masonry equipment, concrete formwork, concrete placement methods and finishing techniques, structural concrete and masonry applications, inspection protocols, product testing, and quality control.
Specialized programs are a good way for students to develop into a specific niche, which will be important as the industry continues to move forward in the age of automation and technology.
At West-MEC, the Electrical Trade Specialty program introduces students to the elements of electrical systems. Students perform maintenance on electrical circuits, work with control systems and install lighting, and motors.
CTE programs often even provide opportunities to learn and work in a real-life scenario. The Energy and Industrial Technology Program at West-MEC is run in close partnership with APS, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Facility and Estrella Mountain Community College.
This model of hands-on-learning strengthens both general knowledge and specific skill sets, ensuring students are prepared and qualified for future opportunities. (Source)