October 02, 2018 10:30am

ccording to recent research of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the Cleveland metro area economy continues to improve. The sector with the fastest growth of employment here from December 2016 to December 2017 was construction, which added 1,500 jobs. That is good news for local teenagers (and their parents) thinking about what’s next after high school.

Also in play is a nationwide labor shortage in construction that is expected to continue. Why? As many workers employed in the trades approach retirement, too few young people enter to replace them. The sheer economics of this imbalance in supply and demand of skilled tradespeople in parts of the country is already boosting salaries, some close to six digits, for those with premium skillsets. There’s a message here for those about to enter the workforce. If you are mechanically-inclined, if you like taking things apart and figuring out how to put them back together, and you like to be active, then working in the trades may be a good fit for you. The Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council is hosting a free apprenticeship career fair on Wednesday, October 24, 2018. For more information, click  https://www.cbctc.org/blognews .

Be realistic. No one is going to start fresh out of high school making big bucks. Many freshly-minted college grads scramble to find jobs and/or take years to pay off college loans. There are no guarantees, but as long as people live and work in some form of “brick and mortar”, inclusive of modern plumbing, wiring, heating and cooling, and woodworking, skilled tradespeople will find work. Beyond new construction and new installation from the ground up, all structures age and will eventually require repairs or updates. While I’m not a fortune teller or an economist, current indicators look positive for motivated young people who are willing to get dirt on their hands.

How can employers and trade contractors encourage young people to pursue the trades as a career? Here are a few ideas:

1) Begin early. Teach kids age-appropriate, mechanical skills at home. Examples might be how to fix a leaky faucet; how to repair a bicycle tire; how to prep and paint walls, stain woodwork, kitchen cabinets, etc.    

2) Take your teen to work day. Depending on the trade, the setting, and the age appropriateness of tasks, this can be a win-win for employers and employees. Employers can introduce potential future tradespeople to their trade niche, and moms and dads can share real-life tools of the trade with their teen.

3) Contact local high schools, vocational schools, and community colleges to participate in Career Day. Routinely engage with counselors and advisors the need for and benefits available to workers in the trades.

4) Volunteer for organizations such as Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. This literally opens the door to hands-on, basic, skills training for enthusiastic young volunteers.

5) Add to your “To-Do” List. If you are allowed and able to help other sub-contractors on a job site, take advantage of this opportunity to learn more. Where appropriate, teach others to be open to acquiring broader skills.

Need Contractors’ Insurance? Contact your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent at Richey-Barrett Insurance.

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