Enrollment in community colleges has declined, but skilled-commerce programs are on the rise

“It’s always double-check, double-check, double-check,” Alanis said. “If we could get into a big project where it was like a real house or apartment, it would be completely shut down and it would just waste time, materials, money, everything.”

There is a shortage of qualified construction workers, according to a survey conducted in September 2021 by the American Associated General Contractors. The survey found that 89% of contractors had a hard time finding trained staff for the job. This affects the project timeline – 61% of contractors report project delays due to manpower shortages.

The demand for workers is “huge,” said Tony Schaffin, leader of the Texas State Technical College construction program.

“Our contractors call us weekly: ‘Do you have anyone who can do the work?’ “She is OK. “I mean, they just want people.”

Part of the labor shortage could be attributed to the aging of experienced workers outside the field, Shafin said. “The average building inspector is about 58 years old, so they’re leaving faster than they come.”

Associated General Contractors in the United States see it as important to invest in efficient trade programs to fill the vacancies of skilled workers.

“The federal government spends only $ 1 for every $ 6 for college training in college preparation,” said Steve Sanderer, the group’s CEO. “This funding gap is a major reason for career training so many contractors have less opinion about the existing pipeline to prepare new craftsmen and construction professionals.”

Tony Shaffin led construction work at Texas State Technical College.
“There’s a huge demand,” said Tony Shaffin, who led the construction program at Texas State Technical College. (Alyssa Nadwarni / NPR)

The high demand for students with a two-year degree or certificate in skilled trade comes at a time when many potential students are reconsidering the value of college. For some students, graduating from a skills-trading program can mean securing a high-paying job without taking on too much debt. According to a survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, a growing number of people without a bachelor’s degree are earning from their four-year college peers.

For Alanise, one of the few women in the construction program, getting her degree is just the first step. Although it is natural for her to be around work sites – she grew up helping her dad in her sandblasting business – she knows she doesn’t want to work hard and stay on job sites forever.

“I want to run it. But I have to learn the basics before I can do it.”

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