Every year students struggle to decide what step to take after high school. Students want to go into a field that will allow them to live the American Dream! Parents want their children to have a better start than they did but have to figure out how to finance the endeavor. College tuitions continue to skyrocket year after year. What if there was a way to make all of this happen with
little to no debt, a guaranteed employable skill, and give them a jump start on earning a family-sustaining wage? I believe there is, and it is called apprenticeship! Below are three reasons that you should not dismiss an apprenticeship and a career in construction.
First, I would like to start by saying that I am not suggesting that all people should not go to college, but rather proposing that a career in the construction industry should be considered an equal. Apprenticeship has been around in one form or another since the inception of jobs. Some of the notable founders of America, such as Benjamin Franklin, took part in apprenticeships. It is one of the most proven ways to learn a trade, skill, or profession. In many states here in the US, it is the only path to licensure in certain occupations. It is also one of the few ways you earn your way to a successful career with little to no education-related debt!
- All crafts within the construction industry are in high demand, with a current 500,000 worker shortage. This demand will continue to expand as the worker shortage is expected to be to 1.2 million or larger by 2020. The number of open construction jobs will continue to grow for two main reasons. First, the large number of baby boomers that will retire from construction. Second is the increased infrastructure spend coming out of Washington DC. For every $1M extra in infrastructure spend, we will create 6.7 to 7.1 new construction jobs1. Gaining experience through apprenticeship will allow the skilled worker to work anywhere in the US they choose.
- According to the US Department of Labor, 91% of students can complete their training while working and earning money, while also earning credit for their hours worked in their craft.2 According to the study, those students are still working for that same employer nine months after completion. 95% of these students graduate with no debt related to their education and are making 40-60K wages per year depending on their craft and location. This is compared to 66% of 2018 college grads having a job, according to a recent Economic Policy Institute study3.
- The last reason is the potential for growth within the industry. As the national spend on construction rises, the industry will need more supervisors, estimators, Jobsite management, and more construction companies. This industry is a great place to get your experience and start your own business. If you choose an apprenticeship program with industry-recognized credentials, you can go anywhere and be recognized as a professional.
A career in construction through apprenticeship does not have to be the end of the road, to quote Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps the end of the beginning.” After completing an apprenticeship program, some students decide to go on and get two or four-year degrees in management, engineering, or other field specialties. Thus, they have a head start both financially and with practical knowledge to put their learning to work for them.
Over the past one and a half years as the CEO of the ABC Cumberland Valley Chapter in Hagerstown, Maryland, I have witnessed several success stories that have formed my views. The most notable is a 24-year-old graduate that came back two years after completion to let us know how he was doing. He had purchased a home with significant acreage, a new truck and was starting a family. This kind of financial stability is something that took me into my 30’s to pull off. There are many of these stories around the US. This industry doesn’t care about your gender, sexual orientation, religion, labor affiliation, or political affiliation. If you are willing to work hard, the construction industry will reward you!
In conclusion, if you would like to start a career in a field that will allow you to grow and start earning a good wage immediately, you should begin to look into all of the possibilities available in the construction field. There is nothing more satisfying in life than seeing a project of any kind through to completion; construction professionals do this regularly. The construction professionals of America are building our future with their minds and hands!