Skilled worker shortage creates challenges, opportunities

Signing day held for a half dozen CCTC automotive students

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - There appears to be no end in sight to the years-long shortage of skilled workers across the country and right here at home.

What's different now is that a surge in business only exacerbating the problem in certain industries.

"Here in this area, you can see our brick masons working," pointed Benny Vaughan as he walked us through one of his local worksites.

Vaughan is the immediate past president of the Home Builders Association of Northwest Louisiana.

He is a second generation general contractor who knows all too well about the shortage of all kinds of skilled workers.

"We're beginning to get to the end of the generations that really know how to do true plastering, know how to actually make trim work," explained Vaughan.

Vaughan told us the recent surge in construction only exacerbates the skilled labor shortage.

Just ask brick mason Don Richardson. "I got a bunch of big jobs coming up. A lot of them I have to turn down because I just don't have the people."

A full two-thirds of contractors are having trouble finding skilled workers according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

And according to the U.S. Labor Department, there are currently 196,000 vacant construction jobs across the country.

An aging workforce is not the only factor in the shortage. Industry leaders also point to a push not too long ago for four-year degrees as opposed to trade schools.

Many in the business community point to places like the Caddo Career and Technology Center in Shreveport as a critical component to any solution to the shortage of skilled workers.
 
We came on signing day at CCTC, where high schoolers sign work agreements with businesses ranging from auto and collision repair to car dealerships.

"I always worked on cars with my dad when I was little. And I just knew I like working on cars, I want to do that, you know. And maybe own my own shop one day," said Isaiah Mapps shortly before his signing ceremony with Southern Automotive.

And places like CCTC are expecting to stay busy for years to come.

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