Letter from the President, Julie Wieman
Most Americans do not know there is a vast shortage of qualified laborers in the plumbing, heating and electrical industries today.
As the Baby Boomers begin to retire within the next ten years, this shortage will reach record numbers with disastrous effects for our nation. Imagine living in an area of the U.S. where the winter months have snow. Imagine your heat going out during temperatures of 30 degrees or less, and having to wait four, seven, even ten days for an HVAC technician to respond to your call. Imagine having a sewer line backup all over your basement, with no plumber available to respond for a week or more. These are not imaginary future speculations, these are the realities of what we will face in the trades with no young people taking the places of our aging workforce.
Due to a concerted lobbyist effort to Congress over two decades ago on behalf of four year colleges and universities, schools have since promoted college as the only education of choice. Think about where you live. The high school vocational programs, trade schools and apprenticeship programs have all but disappeared. Kids in high school are either “on the college track” or not. Schools are rated based upon how many bodies they send onto college. Do any of you currently have kids recently graduated from college? Have they found jobs? Do they possess any student debt? I have a nephew and step-daughter who both hold college degrees, yet have not been able to find jobs in their fields for over two years, while grappling with student debt in the tens of thousands.
The statistics for these experiences across our country are staggering, yet there is no renewed push toward vocational, much less the recognition for the need.
As a result, there have been relatively few young people entering the trades for the past two decades. The trades have lost the public perception of being honest, hardworking and necessary that was so common in our fathers’ and grandfathers’ times. Fast forward to today’s labor shortage.
A non-profit organization, the Legacy Foundation, is taking the charge on combating this problem at a national level. One initiative they have is called the Troops To Trades program. Legacy has partnered with the National American Legion to promote the viability and sustainability of careers in the trades to returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Our country will see a minimum of 26,000 returning vets this year alone, another 38,000 next year, and continuing in the hundreds of thousands from there. Many young men and women return home, injured or not, to find there are no jobs. The plumbing, heating and electrical trades protect the health, safety and welfare of our nation. Legacy feels there is no better group to partner with than the veterans who protect our freedoms here and abroad.
Legacy is paying full scholarships through private funding for over 40 returning veterans to be trained in the plumbing, heating or electrical fields this year alone. The scholarships range from technical schools, to sales training, to customer service training for disabled vets. Some of the veterans who have won scholarships and have already gone through training never had any previous experience in the trades, but came home from deployment and wanted to learn skills that would give them future job stability and lucrative careers. Once these veterans go through training, the Legacy Foundation provides a network of companies across the nation and Canada who are seeking and hiring qualified individuals everyday to fill their labor shortages.
If you know of any returning veterans who might benefit from this information, please encourage them to check out: http://nexstarfoundation.org/scholarships-veterans-trade-program/.
If you know of any high school age or older men and women who are interested in finding rewarding careers with job stability, encourage them to check out:
Nexstar Legacy Foundation President