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DIGGING DEEPER: Tech schools work to fill skilled trades job openings

MADISON (WKOW) — From construction to electrical work, the skilled trades industry is struggling to fill positions.

A new study done by the National Association of Home Builders shines a light on that, showing nearly 70 percent of its members were experiencing delays in completing construction projects on time due to a shortage of qualified workers.

While the industry is struggling, Madison Area Technical College is seeing a boost in students, hoping to capitalize on the shortage.

At 35-years-old, Willis Russell is back in class. Since high school, he’s worked odd jobs in factories and doing handy work, but he’s hoping construction will offer him more stability.

“I know there’s always a job in that,” he commented.

Right now construction companies are searching for workers. Just checking in with ten locations in the Madison area showed all of them have at least one opening.

Madison College Instructor Allie Berenyi said there are a few reasons for that shortage.

The recession in 2008 caused a lot of people in the industry to lose their jobs. While the housing market continues to rebound, many people who did keep their jobs are starting to reach retirement age.

Madison College is putting an emphasis on educating younger people about the opportunities a skilled trade can offer by holding high school visits and summer camps for girls. Now, more students are coming to study there.

“We have seen an increase in growth in electricians, plumbers and HVAC techs representing about 45 percent increase since 2016,” said Dr. Denise Reimer, Madison College Associate Vice President.

With so many job options for students right now, companies are having to get creative with what they are offering employees.

“We’re seeing tuition reimbursements, really flexible hours,” said Reimer.

Students graduating from Madison College’s Construction program can start out making close to $50,000. Apprenticeship completers can make more than $71,000.

The demand for skilled trades workers isn’t going anywhere. According to a report commissioned by Madison College, the need for these workers is set to grow more than 16 percent by 2029.

Technical colleges across the area are continuing to target younger people. To see opportunities near you, click on the links below.

Madison Area Technical College- Visitation

Madison Area Technical College- Summer Youth Opportunities

Blackhawk Technical College- High School Partnerships


Rebecca Ribley

Wake Up Wisconsin Anchor

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