Until now, when an employer mentioned the skills gap, the sticking point seemed to be technical in nature.
That is, the people applying for jobs, whether in the high-tech sector or even in manufacturing, just did not have the technical training to step into the jobs. And even companies that were willing to do some training specific to their needs found that the talent pool was not up to the challenge.
Now comes word that even the most physical of job openings – plumbers – is going begging for applicants, and some employers are seeing a shortage that could leave Rhode Island in a bad place in the not-distant future. One industry observer estimates the shortfall of plumbers in the Ocean State to be 600 right now, with that number growing as the older generation retires.
The answer seems simple enough – get more school-age children interested in the trades, which still pay a decent wage and don’t require an advanced degree to start working. But as with so many things, the what is easy. The how, not so much. •