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Trade jobs in high demand, but employee numbers remain low

Updated: Oct. 30, 2019 at 6:30 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Plumbers and other trade workers are in high demand nationwide, but the number of people choosing those careers are few.

The shop man at Gordon’s Plumbing and Heating, Steve Wall, said they have been swamped with normal plumbing calls, because they do not have enough employees on staff to get them done as quickly as they would like.

Because of the lack of people interested in a trade career in plumbing, some tech schools have stopped offering the program all together, like at Great Plains Technology Center.

“We losing a lot of young people who don’t want to be in the trade industries, as well as electricians. We need the people," said Wall. "Lawton is growing, we haven’t had any additions to plumbers in many, many years, so that’s what puts everybody behind.”

It is more than a local problem. It is nationwide.

“The AGC of America ran a survey this year of all of our 26,000 plus members, and anywhere from 75 to 80% of the respondents indicated that they were having a hard time filling positions, whether that’s skilled labor or even more white collar jobs in our members offices,” said Doug Tapp, executive director of ACG of Oklahoma Building Chapter.

Tapp said they hope to start increasing the numbers by working with high schools and tech schools.

“It will take some time to reverse the trend of the shortages,” said Tapp.

Wall has been working in the plumbing field for over four decades and said trade careers are the way to go.

“There’s good money to be made," said Wall. "There is plenty of work available in Lawton. Plenty. It’s something you might want to consider.”

Wall said it is a great way to make a good living, and takes less time and money than most colleges.

“A whole lot less," said Wall. "And money wise, a whole, whole lot less.”

Because of the need, you can find a good job almost anywhere.

“You can find a job anywhere because, especially if you have formalized training, you’ll be top of the list," said Mark Pippin, CEO of Pippin Brothers. "You’ll be a foreman or a superintendent.”

If you are interested in learning more about a trade career, the Great Plains Technology Center offers several courses.

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