With the decrease of tradespeople, the technical field needs skilled workers
Updated: May 26
After countless meetings with advisors, counselors and college recruiters, millions of high school graduates will be making plans to go to college in the fall. This summer, an estimated 3 million students will be heading to college for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Their parents will not hesitate to express how proud they are that their children will further their future career with higher education. Most parents dream their child will go to a school that will provide them with better opportunities.
Unfortunately, the parents of graduates who will go to technical schools will not be as eager to voice their child’s plans. It’s not rare for school districts to discourage schooling in the technical field.
This has led to an increase in the demand for skilled technicians like machinists and other technical engineers. The decline in interest has led companies like Tecomet to find the route cause of this phenomenon. Tecomet, Inc. is a manufacturing company that produces medical and aerospace products such as shoulder stems, cases, Tecomet instruments and orthopedic implant products.
Duane Korytko, the general manager of Tecomet, recently expressed his growing concern for the decreasing number of applicants looking for careers in mechanical engineering. He fears the evolution of manufacturing over the last 20 years has caused a decline in the technical field.
The skills needed at companies like Tecomet have continued to be in high demand; however, recent evidence has shown that only a small percentage of students are inclined to enroll in vocational programs.
“From 2003-04 to 2011-12, the proportion of undergraduates who were seeking a sub-baccalaureate certificate increased slightly from 7 percent to 8 percent,” according to reports from The National Center for Education Statistics,
Although these figures show a small increase over the course of almost a decade, Korytko will argue that these figures are not sufficient.
Korytko believes that most people aren’t well-informed on what the technical field actually consists of. Being uneducated in the occupations in the technical field may have led students into a traditional college route.
“Society as a whole has not pushed for students to take a technical path, which has led to the low supply in machinists and technical engineers,” Korytko said.
The way some companies tend to combat this problem is by recruiting students in high school and providing financial support for their education at technical schools.
Korytko expresses the lengths companies will go to keep skilled workers in their companies in order to secure “the retention of their talent.” He described companies continuing to secure talent using different methods including going as far as “raising the salaries of their employees 2-3 times faster than inflation.”
Since skilled technicians are in such high demand, it’s up to manufacturing companies to inspire workers to join their team. This requires the help of experienced recruiters that will present a compelling argument as to why their company is the best fit for skilled technicians.
Eventually, the company will test internal employees for technical competency in order to determine if they are capable of working there.
This method helps companies find the right employees with the correct set of skills that they are in need of. However, methods like these do not increase the rates of high school students attending vocational schools.
Those in the technical field will agree that this issue requires a collective effort from school systems across the nation to inform students that there are well-paying jobs that are in high demand in the technical field.
California, home to the largest provider of workforce training in the country, has confronted this issue directly in hopes that the shortage of skilled technicians will soon be resolved.
In 2018, California invested $200 million in the revival of vocational education and $6 million more in a campaign, according to The Public Policy Institute of California. The campaign’s purpose was to help the reputation that revolves around the idea of technical school as well as the overall disparity between students that wish to go to traditional schools and those who are willing to go into vocational training.
By Isabella Pinel