Why the skilled labor shortage matters to small business

There’s a growing labor shortage for skilled trade professionals in the United States. The shrinking supply of talent for some of the best vocational careers in the nation, including HVAC and appliance technicians, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, floor installers, painters, and more, is taking a toll on both homeowners and small businesses across the country that rely on these trade professionals.

The impact on small businesses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the nation’s need for workers in the skilled trades is increasing at a much faster rate than the growth of employment overall. Why? Because Baby Boomers in skilled labor jobs are retiring in record numbers, while high school graduates are bypassing the trades as a career option. Both of these trends are creating an unprecedented skilled labor shortage in America.

A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders revealed that 81 percent of its members were experiencing delays in completing projects on time, while other jobs were lost altogether due to a shortage of qualified workers. More than half of these small business owners say they're turning down jobs or will have to turn down jobs in the next two years as a direct result of this unprecedented skilled trades shortage.

This noticeable decrease in workforce has major implications on the small businesses who employ these tradespeople. According to the data, the skilled labor shortage equates to a loss of almost three weeks of work each year. As any small business owner can tell you, adding three extra weeks of work in your schedule could turn a mediocre financial year into a great one.

Addressing the skilled labor shortage

Analysts predict the skilled trade gap will leave 3 million jobs unfilled by 2028. Fortunately, some organizations have recognized the problem and are working to address it. One such company is Lowe’s, which started a movement called Generation T (the “T” is for trade).

Generation T is made up of organizations from across the U.S. committed to changing a national perception that the skilled trades are a less desirable career. Together, they hope to change the way people perceive their career options, educate them on the best vocational careers available, and open pathways to grow talented tradespeople to fill the gap.

By exposing youth to trade education early and encouraging students to explore career options beyond four-year degree programs, Generation T seeks to inspire these students to pursue a career that’s meaningful, flexible and offers ample opportunities for growth. Generation T connects prospective skilled trade professionals to apprenticeships and small businesses through several resources, including:

  • A job-matching tool which helps prospective tradespeople find the career that’s best suited for them.
  • Partner involvement from those who are committed to creating a new generation of skilled trade workers.
  • Social channels to inspire, educate and inform prospective students who might be considering skilled labor jobs
  • Job skills immersion programs, where students spend a day getting hands-on training from local partners in various skilled trades.

Movements like Generation T are showing new generations that a job in the skilled trades is a financially viable and rewarding career path that’s easier to enter and less expensive than the traditional college route. Addressing this problem is an important step to help small businesses plan for the future and reach their long-term goals.

For more information on Generation T, visit WeAreGenerationT.com.