Trade Workforce at an Alarming Low

by Tiffany Sawyer-Schank, Executive Director MIACC

After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, the U.S. needs more tradespeople.

So much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades, that many fields now face worker shortages.  It is time to rebuild the reputation of vocational education in America.

Experts have acknowledged that there is a growing need for skilled labor.   Vocational or job focused courses in high school, and accompanying apprenticeships, can provide students with essential “soft skills” that open the door to advanced workforce training.  Skilled trades show among the highest potential of job categories.  On average, tradespeople are older than workers in other fields, offering long term job security.  Students are not even aware of the value of vocational programs and the certifications earned, many of which can add tens of thousands of dollars per year to a graduate’s income.  It’s time students and their families “buy in” to the need and value of vocational education.

As with a lot of education challenges, money is also a big problem.  Equipment and trained instructors in some specialty fields can be prohibitively expensive. However, the Trump administration’s proposed budget allows student borrowers to use Pell Grants for short-term, non-traditional degree programs, such as vocational or technical schools. Trade school graduates leave their programs with more job security, on average, than community college graduates. This results in part from the hands-on apprenticeships that students do while completing their certification. Vocational and technical degrees also take fewer years to complete, allowing individuals to move into the workforce more quickly.

Locally, our vocational schools are struggling with the need to keep “Marine Mechanic/Motorboat Technician” listed on the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, Inc. Targeted Organization List (TOL).  Every year “Motorboat Mechanics” is removed from the list due to “lack of need for marine service technicians”.  Ask any of our local dealers and you won’t find one that says they don’t need more “good help.”

Marine businesses, vocational schools need your help!  We have to show 80 or more projected job openings for all marine service related industries in Southwest Florida.

There are a few important numbers you need to include in your letter, these are not commitments by you, simply averages and projections.

1- Number of projected openings for this   2- Projected average entry level hourly wage for these employees   3- Number of current full-time positions for this occupation    4- Average hourly wage paid to these employees

Letters can be e-mailed, mailed, faxed or hand delivered to:

Mary Anne Zurn, Planning & Grants Division Director

Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, Inc.

9530 Marketplace Road, Suite 104

Fort Myers, FL 33912


Fax to: (239)-225-2559

For more information contact Tiffany Sawyer-Schank, MIACC Executive Director, at (239) 682-0900 email:  Like our Facebook Fan page for up to date information

Tiffany Sawyer-Schank, Executive Director MIACC Preserving the right to safe and fun boating

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