The future is in skilled labor

Georgia is having a construction boom. But here is the problem with that - there isn't enough skilled labor to get the jobs done.

For so long we have told kids the path to success is through a college education. It can be, but it's not for everybody. Here's something that I just learned. Seven out of 10 Americans will never earn a four-year degree yet our education system is geared toward pushing students down that path.

We dropped in to see as the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia exposed young people to high paying, accessible futures.

Without more roofers and other skilled laborers, economic growth slows and inconveniences pick up the pace.  Just ask Scott Schelar, CEO of the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia.  Even he can't find workers.

"We can't get a surveyor to come out and survey a property we want to buy for at least 30 days, but we need to close in the next 10 days."

Ron Heath,  a VP of production at Roof Depot, knows, too. He's on the front lines looking for folks to fill jobs. He has a little inside into why we are low on labor.

"I got a degree in political science and ended up with $30,000 debt."

His story is not unique. So many young people have felt for many years now that they have to go to college. But when you try to push a square peg into a round hole, students drop out then still have the loan debt to pay off. It's a terrible combination when all along they should've been guided toward a trade.

"I graduated and had a degree. I started out making $35,000 a year. I got kids starting out of high school making double that in construction with a skilled trade," Ron Heath said.

This recent trade show exposed young people to all of the options out there and to their potential paychecks.

"It's not uncommon for electricians to make over $75,000 a year. An anthropology degree is not going to earn that kind of money usually," said Scott Schelar.

But this Chatham County high school junior didn't need convincing.  

"I've always loved hands-on things," Skylar Hall told me.

He's wearing a hard hat with a bright yellow sticker that says 'job seeker'.

"I'm looking for a career in construction management or engineering, somewhere along those lines."

There are no real limits. You can work with your hands. Design software for the job. Supervise the crew. Or eventually, own your own company.   

Both CEFGA and Real Workers Matter are good places to get started.