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Educators, students in construction field look to build future workforce

Students, Instructors and construction workers say there's a need to fill jobs across St. Joseph and across the country.

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 6:58 PM
Updated: Oct 4, 2019 9:50 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) Construction professionals, educators, and students are grappling with the demand to fill construction jobs for today and into the future.

At Hillyard Technical School, students in a carpentry class are working on their future trade skills.

"It's fun," Brandon Miller said. "We learn how to build, learn the technical parts of it, and get certified in what we need to do."

Students are getting exposure to the trade even before they get their high school diplomas.

"We have seniors and juniors go through this program in a two-year time frame." Brian Weed Carpentry Instructor said. 

Those in the construction industry said the fast pace is for good reason, the need for trade skills in St. Joseph and across the country is only slated to rise in the coming years.

"As far as personnel, always looking for good people whether it's welders, machinists, assemblers anything like that.

Those in construction stressed the importance of trade jobs. They said they want to make sure these jobs aren’t forgotten.

"They’re almost thought lesser of as a job," Luke Ravenscraft, Snorkel said. "They’re the most important things because without those people we can’t build our machines.

Weed said his trade, in particular, will see the most demand.

He projects an average increase of 8-10% in demand for carpentry jobs over the next decade, as opposed to demand for other trade jobs.  

Construction instructors and professionals said they are seeing an interest in high school-age children in trades, but they add there’s still some concern it won’t be enough to fill the demand.

"We’re not touching the demand for people to fill open positions yet," Weed said. 

Those just getting their first set of skills into their toolbelt say trades are definitely something they want to stick with.

"Having all this gives me better chances for jobs and better pay," Miller said. "It provides a lot of things I can do and want to do."

Instructors at Hillyard said there is currently a waiting list for kids to get into some trades courses. 

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