(NewsNation) — America needs electricians, plumbers and carpenters, but Gen Z doesn’t seem interested in working skilled labor or trade jobs.
The application rate for young people seeking work in the trades was nearly cut in half from 2020 to 2022, according to data from online recruiting platform Handshake shared with NPR. This comes even though the average salaries range from around $50,000 – $70,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Roger Wakefield, owner of Rescue Air, Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, said he doesn’t think Gen Z doesn’t want these types of careers, but rather students need to be educated about getting trades and not solely on attending college.
“I think the reason they’re not getting into — if they’re taught if they don’t go to college, they’re not going to be anything,” Wakefield said. “I think that what we need to do is we need to re-educate them and let them know about the opportunities available in the trades, and they’re phenomenal.”
Wakefield said if people don’t fill these jobs it will only further hurt the economy.
“The average age of, I believe, it’s the master plumber in Texas is 58 years old, and for every 10 people that retire each year, we’re only getting four or five to refill them,” he said.
Wakefield said there are more than one million unfilled trades jobs across the United States that students are missing out on.
“I think tradespeople that are looked at as being under-educated, they’re looked at as being stupid, but to be honest, for four or five years, all they train on is the exact trade that they’re in,” he said.
“I know tradespeople that are in the field every day, that make $200,000 to $400,000 a year because they’re super productive. They fine-tuned their trade, and they make great money at it,” Wakefield said. “And then again, they love what they do.”