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Issue 1561 November 25, 2012
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APPLY HERE NOW! Many Positions Available in Construction Trades

Filling 100,000 Open Jobs Said Critical for Michigan's Economy

August 11, 2018       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) organization is bullish about the future -- if leaders can find and train employees for the 100,000 openings in the field.

"Contractors can rest assured that the economy will retain its momentum through the balance of the year," ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu said. "While financial markets may remain volatile and the global news cycle will undoubtedly continue to swirl, leading indicators -- including those related to the level of observable activity among engineers, architects, and other design professionals -- suggest that another wave of building construction is on the way."

With more than 7.2 million employees nationwide, industrial and commercial construction has long been one of the nation's largest industries, according to the Greater Michigan Construction Academy, Midland. But today, construction company owners across the nation are facing a growing shortage of tradesmen such as pipefitters, steelworkers, electricians, and carpenters.

The skills of construction tradesmen are in high demand, and with a 19% projected growth rate through 2018, the construction industry has the potential to take you farther (and pay you more) than the corporate ladder ever could.

Fact: America's average weekly earnings: $914 for commercial construction tradesmen, $608 for everyone else.

Fact: $47,528 = Average annual salary for nonresidential building construction nationwide.

Fact: 10+ years: That's how long it will take 39% of college grads to pay off their student loans.

Did you know? For every four people who leave the trades, only one new person is supplied by apprenticeship programs to enter the trades.

Fact: The construction industry needs about 240,000 employees just to keep up with the demand for new roads, buildings, schools, airports, hospitals, power plants, and housing.

Career paths in Michigan should more frequently involve skilled trades apprentice training, according to a recent report that details the benefits of the programs.

"That form of formalized on-the-job training for specific jobs - like electrician, plumber, carpenter, and steelworker - comes at a low-cost for the participant, and fuels the state's economic drivers that use construction trades," wrote Paula Gardner for

The state already is looking at expanding its Skilled Trades Training Program beyond the $30 million it's already spent, while also considering ways to boost career tech education in Michigan's middle and high schools.

The reason: It's critical for Michigan's economic development to fill its nearly 100,000 open jobs and train for the retirements coming in the next 10 years.

"I didn't really want to go to college," said Ivy, who enrolled at Eastern Michigan for the fall. "But I didn't want to work at Little Caesars the rest of my life."

That was the statement of one Upper Peninsula student in an interview with Ron French of Bridge Magazine, posing a conundrum that faces many Michigan high school students.

"Michigan is in the bottom third in the nation in percent of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher," wrote Mr. French. "That matters to the state economy because college grads make almost $1 million more over the course of their careers than those with just a high school diploma. Michigan ranks 36th in college degree rate and 34th in income.

"Michigan didn't make a list of 20 finalists for a second Amazon headquarters in January partly because the state wasn't perceived to have enough college grads for the jobs that would be created by the new business.


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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

More from Dave Rogers

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