Skilled trades positions continue to be the most difficult to fill, according to local experts and a survey by ManpowerGroup.
These positions, which include machinists, mechanics and welders, topped the annual report’s list of hardest jobs to fill for the fourth consecutive year.
“A lot of it has to do with parents saying, ‘college, college, college,” said Bryon John, admissions director at Commercial Driver School in Lakewood. “It’s kind of looked down upon to do those labor jobs.”
Tacoma-area staffing companies agree.
“I think a lot of people used to go get a trade, and now people are focusing on getting a four-year degree because they see more money in that,” said Sarah Knickerbocker, operations recruiter at Opti Staffing Group.
“There is a huge need and there’s not enough people going into those trades. The emphasis used to be put on those trades in primary school,” Knickerbocker said. But, “schools aren’t promoting that as much as they used to be.”
Funding in schools is moving more toward the fields of art and technology, she said.
So, now, her company is busy trying to fill openings for computer numeric control (CNC) machinists, manual machinists, certified welders, diesel mechanics and other skilled trades.
“A lot of people that would have gone into that 30 or 40 years ago are going into nothing. People think you either work in fast food or in the business district downtown,” Knickerbocker said.
Those who did go into these trades many years ago, like CNC machinists, are having a harder time filling these jobs because of technological advances.
“They’ve been doing it forever and they don’t operate the way machinists do now,” Knickerbocker explained. “Everything is moving over to the computer age, and then they’re way into their career.”
Josh Howard, sales manager at LaborWorks, Inc., is also seeing a large demand for skilled trades workers.
His company is helping fill openings for equipment operating occupations, like forklift drivers and operators and inventory management workers, especially heading into the holiday season.
“That’s going to be a great need here in the next couple of months,” Howard said.