Organization Introduces Students to Skilled Trades

As the labor shortage continues to hinder hiring for many companies across the U.S., including auto glass, employers are looking at ways to increase interest and knowledge of skilled trades in schools.

WorkingNation, a national non-profit campaign, has released a mini-documentary called “Building a Strong Foundation: SkillsUSA Prepares the American Workforce.” It focuses on how SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization, is working to ensure that the U.S. has a skilled workforce through its SkillsUSA TeamWorks competition.

The five-minute documentary follows 20-year-old Logan Thomas and others as they learn and practice in-demand trade skills as part of the competition. SkillsUSA has partnered with education and industry leaders to equip more than 13 million people with the skills and experience necessary to become competitively employed in highly technical trade and service jobs.

“I think programs that go into schools to educate young people about skilled labor careers are a wonderful idea. If you can recruit a person that is just starting in the workforce then you have the opportunity to teach them the correct way to install auto glass,” Sandra Smiley-Carrique, Smiley’s Glass shop owner, said.

“We have a job to do with parents. We have a job to do with counselors. We have a job to do with the general public and even the news media to inform people that these job exist,” said SkillsUSA executive director Tim Lawrence in the video. “They’re well paid, they’ll support your family and your community, and they’re technical.”

Congress recently passed a bill into law that will boost career and technical education in schools by easing state and local requirements. SkillsUSA is just one program available for students to become connected with the skills trades. One aim of the documentary is to show employers that schools can be a viable resource for the skilled workers currently missing in the job market.

Wes Crowley, general manager of Gerber Collision and Glass in College Park, Md., supports the idea of auto glass companies reaching out to schools.

“We should have a shop that’s also a school so that young people can learn to work on cars that customers bring in because this is a hands on industry. There’s not enough training being done in the shops because there isn’t enough time for it. This industry needs people who are skilled and have talent, either you have it or you don’t – but programs like this or any programs that help get more people into the auto glass industry are needed to start ending the trade shortage,” Crowley said.

“I believe it takes a couple years of working next to another established mechanic to learn the “craft” of becoming an auto glass installer. I also believe that we need more skilled labor in the workforce. These sorts of careers are an important part of a strong economic community and many of these sorts of positions have high wages. I don’t believe it is necessary to go to a traditional college to be able to get a job that pays well and offers long term security. Tech schools are great options for career paths” Smiley-Carrique said.

The documentary is part of WorkingNation’s “Do Something Awesome” series, consisting of mini-documentaries that shine a light on programs across the country working to prepare Americans for jobs of the future.

Emmariah Holcomb contributed to this report.

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