Skilled workers in high demand

Published 5:27 pm Friday, July 13, 2012

Imagine being stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire. A simple phone call, and you’re on your way.

In a few years however, some are saying no one may be there to answer that call.

Renee LeMaire, LBW Community College spokesperson, said employers around the state and country are seeing a great need for technical workers.

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“Both the state and the nation are predicting that there is going to be a shortage in some fields like electricians,” LeMaire said. “For so many years, high school students have been geared to go to a four-year degree, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it has resulted in too few students being geared toward the technical programs.”

According to a 2010 study done by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce titled “Help Wanted: Projecting Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018,” the workforce will practically be begging for technical-trained individuals in the years to come.

According to the study, demand for workers with college educations will outpace supply to the tune of 300,000 per year. By 2018, the postsecondary system will have produced three million fewer college graduates than demanded by the labor market.

Dr. Jim Krudop, LBW Community College Vice President, said technical programs are becoming more and more important every day.

“You just have the skills for a career today,” Krudop said. “Students need more and more education – even more than a high school program. The two-year program meets those needs particularly in those technical areas.”

While time moves forward, more and more technical workers are retiring from the workforce and there is a lack of younger workers to replace them.

“There is going to be more and more companies who are going to require at least a two-year degree,” LeMaire said.

Some fields that require only a two-year degree are starting to pay equal or more than what a field that requires a four-year degree might pay.

“For instance, have you had your car repaired recently?” LeMaire asked. “Have you gotten a massage to see how much they charge per hour? Those are the kind of things that as they get training in the marketplace, they start earning good money.”

By 2018, the study showed that the economy would create 46.8 million job openings: 13.8 million brand new jobs and 33 million replacement jobs.

According to the study, nearly two-thirds of these 46.8 million jobs — some 63 percent — will require workers with at least some college education. About 34 percent will require a Bachelor’s degree or better, while 30 percent will require at least some college or a two-year Associate’s degree. Only 36 percent of total jobs will require workers with just a high school diploma or less, and those will be clustered toward the low end of the wage scale.

In Greenville, LBWCC offers a technical degree in nursing. Other degrees that can be found in Opp or Andalusia include computer science, drafting and design, emergency medical services, forest technology, industrial electronics and office administration.

“(Nursing) is just one of the technical programs that are in high demand and pretty good jobs,” Krudop said. “We see that as important.”