Are Skilled Trades Doomed to Decline?

Global forces and technology trends are creating opportunities as well as challenges for American workers. There are an estimated one-half million more jobs available than workers with relevant skills in trades from construction and manufacturing to aviation, a gap forecast to rise to 2 million within a decade. Such jobs are accessible with a two-year degree or apprenticeship and pay well above average, often at salaries higher than associated with many college degrees.

Surveys reveal that a majority of manufacturers report a “skills gap” and expect it to get worse. The contention that the gap was either created by or will be filled by software and robots isn’t supported by recent trends in automation. On the contrary, manufacturers report a rising need for “trade skills” because of increasing technological sophistication in every industry.

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