Skilled Trades Shortages in the Industrial Sector

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The world is changing rapidly. Many of those changes have been driven by new technologies that have fundamentally shaped how we live and work. These societal shifts have thrown some industries off balance. The industrial sector is one of them.

There’s currently a significant shortage of skilled trade workers both in the industrial sector and outside of that. Keep reading to learn why this has happened, what it looks like, and how you might be able to benefit from the shortage moving forward.

What is a skilled trade worker, exactly?

Let’s start with the basics: a skilled trade worker is someone who uses specialized skills, knowledge, or ability to complete a job. They typically develop their know-how through either on-the-job training or by studying the trade at a college or technical school.

There’s a large list of positions that could be described as a skilled trade job. But the easiest way to think about this is to split trade workers into three categories: industrial, construction, and service.


  • Welders
  • Machinists
  • Mechanics
  • Tool and die makers
  • Programmers
  • Among others


  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Bricklayers
  • Insulators
  • Etc.


  • Nurses
  • Therapists
  • Service Technicians
  • Aides
  • Orderlies
  • And more

Why are skilled trade workers in demand?

Employers are constantly searching for skilled trade workers to hire. This is because it’s simply impossible to hire someone without specialized knowledge, abilities, or skill to complete the same tasks that a skilled trade worker is capable of completing.

The demand for different types of trade workers can vary based on changing market conditions. But there will always be a need for these employees because of the specialized role that they play in helping the economy move forward.

Is there a skilled trade shortage?

There’s currently a gap between the demand that employers have for skilled workers and the number that are applying to positions. About 60% of unfilled positions in the manufacturing sector have remained unfilled because there simply aren’t enough applicants with sufficient skills who would like to work in them.

So, yes. There’s absolutely a shortage of skilled trade workers in the United States. Analysts project this shortage to grow even more profound in the coming years.

Why is there a skilled trade shortage?

There are several different reasons why we have a shortage of skilled trade workers in this country. Here’s an overview of each of them.


Millions of aging workers are expected to leave the workforce over the coming years. This is happening alongside unprecedented rates of retirement, adding up to a situation in which more workers are leaving the workforce than entering into it.


Schools today do a poor job of introducing their students to skilled labor. This typically happened in shop class and related subject areas. But many of these classes have been reduced or eliminated due to dwindling budgets and shifting priorities.


73% of high school students report being encouraged to study at a four-year university. There’s nothing wrong with going to college. But we’ve reached a point in which anything but college is considered a failure in many households. 

Many young students who might have done well in a skilled trade role are being led away from the industry by well-meaning parents, advisors, and family members.

Is this an opportunity?

Now that you understand the nature of our country’s skilled trades shortage, you might be wondering what it means for you. Well, if you’re interested in a career in the industrial sector, now could be the perfect time to pursue one.

If you’re not sure where to focus your efforts, then consider the list below. It highlights some of the skilled trade positions that employers need the most.


Welders work with metal and its components. They use their specialized abilities to create equipment and various parts and components. Welders also sometimes repair equipment within the automotive and construction fields, and may even work on large structures.

Average Salary: $17.89 per hour


Brick masons use their specialized knowledge of bricks and bricklaying to create and repair structures. They read blueprints, lay bricks based on technical specifications, and ensure that they bond together properly.

Average Salary: $20.26 per hour


A construction equipment operator is someone who specializes in the operation of heavy machinery on construction sites. They also spend some of their time maintaining the equipment that they use and making repairs to it. If you enjoy the construction industry, then this could be the perfect position for you to pursue.

Average Salary: $20.38 per hour


Wind turbines are quickly becoming more and more prevalent as the shift to green energy moves forward. Becoming a wind turbine technician will help you get into this expanding field.

Employees in this role diagnose and resolve issues that occur with wind turbines. They climb up to high areas, make inspections, and replace any malfunctioning pieces that they find.

Average Salary: $22.63 per hour


Diesel technicians specialize in the repair and maintenance of diesel vehicles. They do things like check and repair lights, replace fluids, and replace engine parts to make sure that the diesel vehicle works properly. Diesel technicians play an integral role in ensuring that the trucking and logistics industries remain functioning.

Average Salary: $25.22 per hour

How to prepare for a skilled trade job in the industrial sector

There’s a ton of opportunity right now for skilled workers in the industrial sector. But you won’t be hired for these positions just because they’re available. Instead, you need to make sure that you have the skills that employers are looking for before you apply.

You might have some of those skills already. So the first thing to do is to figure out which skilled trade job you’d like to apply for. Then, make an honest assessment of whether you have the skills needed to qualify for the position.

If you do, great. You’re ready to put together a resume and begin applying to positions that interest you.

If you don’t, that’s okay too. You can begin developing the skills that you need now and you’ll be ready to enter into a skilled trade in no time. Here’s how you can go about doing that.


You don’t need a four-year college degree in order to become a skilled trade worker. But you do need some specialized training. You can get that by pursuing a 2-year degree or a certificate program at a technical school.

If you’re not sure what to pursue, then do a little research. You can ask an advisor at a local technical school. Or you can search online for the position that you’re interested in and what’s required to qualify for it.


Skilled trades require more than just knowledge of the position that you’re interested in. You also need to learn how to work with your hands and carry out the tasks that you’ll be assigned when you’re hired for the job that you want.

Most people develop these skills by training on the job. Some people pursue an apprenticeship. These can be helpful because they allow you to work alongside someone who’s experienced and capable of instructing you to help you develop your skillset.

You can also learn a lot outside of a formal apprenticeship. Either way, you’ll develop the skills that you need for the job that you want while also adding another line to your resume.


Now that you have the education and the experience, you’re ready to start applying to the jobs that you really want. Getting the most out of this process will require excellent application materials.

Most importantly, you need to put together a strong resume. Yours should highlight your past experience, your education, and the skills that you have that are directly relevant to the position that you’re applying for.

If you’re not sure how to create a strong resume, do a little research online. You’ll find countless templates to follow and language samples that you can use to create a resume that will truly stand out.

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