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OpEd: Economic Growth vs. A Declining Workforce

April 15 2008

OpEd: Economic Growth vs. A Declining Workforce
By Steve Crespin, President/CEO, Mechanical Contractors Association

Commercial and industrial growth is at an all-time peak in the southwest; however, this growth will have a grim future if the current workforce isn’t replaced as they near retirement.

The recent approval of the Central Community College campus in Rio Rancho will demand a large number of skilled workers, with over $2 million in plumbing and mechanical work alone. As southeast New Mexico continues to expand, the demand for much skilled labor to complete the workload is eminent.

The building and construction industry not only faces this concern in New Mexico, but it also holds true around the country. Cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix continue to expand and various locations along the gulf coast have plans for reconstruction and expansion.

The demand for pipefitters, welders, plumbers, electricians, sheet metal workers and other skilled workers is higher than it has ever been. Currently, skilled labor for much of the work is contracted out from around the country to endure the workload.

There are specific organizations like the Mechanical Electrical Sheet Metal Alliance (MESA), which focuses entirely on creating awareness about all of the terrific programs and apprenticeships that exist within the fields of construction and building. Organized of New Mexico businesses and their unions, MESA is an organization that offers support and information on all of the benefits of joining such a trade.

The pursuit of careers in this industry has declined due to the fact that the general public lacks awareness concerning the range of valuable benefits the building and construction trades have to offer. The industry provides superior apprenticeship training programs for individuals pursuing a career in the field.

These programs are paid for entirely by union organizations that follow an ‘earn while you learn philosophy.’ Students in the programs are paid to learn valuable skills as they work toward their journeyman licensure alongside a skilled craftsman. In addition to excellent wage rates, other benefits include full family healthcare, guaranteed pension benefits, advancement opportunities and a promising career with a future.

The skills developed through apprenticeship programs in the building and construction trades provide ‘skills for life’ that can be applied anywhere in the world. In addition, the benefit to being a union worker is that if the economy takes a dive, workers can relocate nearly anywhere because they are trained and licensed in a specialized field.

As the workload continues to increase, the industry is doing whatever it takes to offer rewarding careers to aspiring individuals. Investment in people in the beginning produces a positive result for everyone in the end. Not many careers can guarantee a job opportunity anywhere in the world; however, when someone has the skills and experience strong enough to build skyscrapers, the sky is the limit!

Chris: Career Transformer

"I am the kind of person who will take something apart just to put it back together again."

Chris

Journeyman Electrician

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