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Where Are All The Workers?

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Like me, you have not only heard that question numerous times, you’ve asked that question, too. So, where are all the workers that our industry needs?

We have to face a few facts before we can answer that question.

First, we have been hindered by the education system that has, in many areas of the country, cut vocational training from high schools. Not only have they cut these programs that helped feed our industry with young talent, they have put a greater focus on pushing students to four-year colleges. As so many of us know, a bachelor’s degree is not necessary to be successful in our industry.

Second, our industry does not have a glamourous image that makes people want to flock to it. The image issue hurts us, because many Millennials put a high value on the perception that society has about their job.

There are other issues, but these are major issues that we need to overcome, and overcome now. So, how do we do that? These two issues are intertwined on some levels.

Let’s start with the image issue. We all know that our industry doesn’t just offer great jobs; it offers long-term career opportunities. The earning potential for our employees is fantastic. Add to that, there is no need for that four-year college degree that is being pushed by the education system, so our employees don’t have massive student loan debt that is plaguing so many young people in America.

This message isn’t getting out there, and it is our job to be pushing it out. We have to get into the schools and let them know that we are a viable option for those students who college isn’t the right option.

Students are not the only group we need to be pushing this image message to. Our veterans are another group of potential employees that we need to be tapping into. We need to be recruiting these people who have been trained by our Armed Services and have skills and knowledge, that while maybe not industry specific, can be turned into top performing employees.

The education system is a little trickier to overcome. However, it can be done, because our industry has the advantage of on-the-job training and, from many employers, employer funded training. You don’t have to be super technical to get into our industry, you just have to have the right attitude and the desire to want to learn and succeed. We can teach people the technical skills. Again it’s about getting this message out to the masses.

So how do we overcome these challenges? We take every opportunity to attend career days, career fairs, veteran recruiting events, any even that we can put out our image the way we want to be seen. We need to approach our local schools and ask to get involved. We have to be the champions of our industry.

ACCA has several resources we can download and customize with our information to help us promote our industry. We need to use these, to show that we are an industry for everyone and that the opportunities are endless.

Another opportunity we need to be promoting is the Rees Scholarship. There are students who want to get a formal education through a vocational school and the Rees Scholarship can help them pay for their education. This scholarship, which ACCA supports, gives up to $2,000 to qualified students enrolled in accredited programs. Multiple scholarships are award each year.

We should also help fund this scholarship by making donations to the Rees Scholarship Foundation. By making donations, we are ensuring that this scholarship will be around for many years, and help more people into our industry.

So, where are all the workers? They are right in front of us, but we have to do the work to get them into our industry. We each have a choice to either be part of the solution or sit on the sidelines.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the scholarship foundation should do so here; and anyone who wishes to apply can do so here for general technicians  and here for any interested veterans.

Dr. Stephen Pape

Posted In: ACCA Now, Opinion

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