Skilled labor industry struggles to fill open jobs

The Lincoln Electrical JATC says they have 20 apprenticeship openings and are struggling to...
The Lincoln Electrical JATC says they have 20 apprenticeship openings and are struggling to fill them.(Samantha Bernt 1011 NOW)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - With low unemployment rates, and even more job openings, skilled labor employers are struggling to fill jobs.

Nebraska has an unemployment rate of 2%, with more than 55,000 available jobs. Skilled labor industries are being hit the hardest, including construction, transportation, and manufacturing.

The director of training for the Lincoln Electrical JATC, Roy Lamb, said he’s been struggling to hire apprentices for the last two years.

“It’s a tough market right now especially with low unemployment in Nebraska,” Lamb said. “We’re all kind of after the same piece of the puzzle.”

Lamb said he has around 20 apprenticeship openings and is actively recruiting people with or without experience.

Nebraska Department of Labor data shows roughly 75% of employers in construction and manufacturing can’t find enough workers.

Lamb said it comes down to finding people who are willing to put in the work.

”We’re gonna teach individuals to be an electrician, we’re gonna give them that training,” Lamb said. “The things we don’t have or that every employer is looking for are those soft skills. Can that individual show up to work on time, do they show interest in wanting to learn?”

According to data from the Department of Labor, the average salary in the construction industry, which electricians fall under, is $48,000. But, Lamb said due to increased need, electricians could make much more than that.

“A six-figure salary is not uncommon as an electrician right now. All that’s going to do is continue to rise because it’s supply and demand,” Lamb said.

Lamb said depending on the program, apprenticeships can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, and participants earn while they learn.

“The work that we do challenges you every day,” Lamb said. “That’s one of the things I really like about it. You’re not in a factory doing the same thing day after day, you are having a challenge.”

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