Skilled labor industry struggles to fill vacancies

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – With low unemployment rates and even more job openings, skilled labor employers are struggling to fill jobs.

Nebraska has a 2% unemployment rate, with over 55,000 jobs available. Skilled labor industries are the hardest hit, including construction, transportation and manufacturing.

Lincoln Electrical JATC training manager Roy Lamb said he has struggled to hire apprentices for the past two years.

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

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

Data from the Nebraska Department of Labor shows that about 75% of construction and manufacturing employers are not finding enough workers.

Lamb said it was about finding people willing to work.

“We’re going to teach individuals to be electricians, we’re going to give them that training,” Lamb said. “What we don’t have or what every employer is looking for are those soft skills. Can this person show up for work on time, does he show an interest in wanting to learn? »

According to Department of Labor data, the average salary in the construction industry, which electricians fall under, is $48,000. But, Lamb said, due to increased needs, electricians could earn a lot more than that.

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

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

“The work 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 have a challenge.

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