With a wave of baby boomers retiring, young middle-skill workers are now under pressure to step up to the plate. Industries such as advanced manufacturing and carpentry need more workers, but where will they find them? Career education classes, especially hands-on skills training, is rarely provided in today’s high schools, and middle skills work is not entirely attractive to today’s newer workers, making it difficult to find people to do necessary production work. Oregon is trying to combat this by nearly doubling investment in career and technical education to create more opportunities for students. The Pacific Northwest Carpenters Union has also taken action by providing paid apprenticeships that essentially lead to a “debt-free education.” As more young workers take advantage of such programs and train in valuable skills, perhaps the critical skills gap will begin to close.
Feb 08, 2016