In the late part of the 20th century, the skilled trades were thriving.
As soldiers returned from war and families were growing at a rapid pace, infrastructure also boomed, which led to high demand for a workforce of men and women to support those industry needs. In schools across the country, classes like wood shop and mechanics were offered to students, providing skill that would afford them the opportunity to work, be successful, and proud.
Fast forward, these same men and women who became industry professionals, business owners, and experts in their crafts, and enjoyed steady employment for decades, are facing retirement. As a nation, we are now facing a shortage of well-trained skilled tradespeople.
According to the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association, “The projected shortage of workers in the plumbing-heating-cooling industry is staggering. By 2028, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the industry will need approximately 114,500 new workers.” Who will fix and replace your water heater, maintain your heating system, or update the electrical system in your home?
As college became more widely promoted as the path to success for students, funding decreased, and schools began eliminating trades-oriented classes and programs. Societal pressures and parents wanting their kids “to have a better life,” intensified the focus on securing college degrees.
Today, young men and women who want to use their hands must look at vocational or technical schools to explore trade options or wait for post-graduation opportunities to start their journey toward a career in the trades.
To combat public perception and help advance the skilled trades, Bradford White Corporation, an industry-leading manufacturer of water heaters, boilers, and storage tanks, has developed a new charitable giving program, Industry Forward™. The program serves to advance public awareness of the importance of the plumbing and HVAC industry, including skilled trades, manufacturing, and distribution.
Bradford White is partnering with non-profit organizations and technical schools to:
- Educate individuals and families on the importance of the skilled trades and the role that industry professionals provide in the health, safety, sanitation, and infrastructure of their communities.
- Help people succeed by supporting training and education programs that strengthen their skills and industry acumen leading to meaningful employment.
- Promote plumbing, HVAC, manufacturing, and distribution careers within the industry through strategic program events and partnerships.
As teens and young adults consider the financial impact of attending a four-year college and look for a stable career in an essential industry, we need to support these career decisions and be an advocate for those interested in the trades and the plumbing and HVAC industry as whole. Only then will we help build a stronger and more sustainable future for all.