CONCORD, Ohio — It's the graduation season and the question nearly every high school graduate gets asked is, "Where are you going to college?"
But some local students already started training for their careers while in high school, and are getting ready to go straight into the workforce, a trades industry eager to hire.
Many students don’t want to collect college debt or work in an office, they want to use their hands and make money right away. A desperate trades industry is hoping it’s a sign of change after suffering a labor shortage.
Businesses owners like Andy Ieropoli of Advance Design and Remodel are seeking help, especially from younger skilled workers
“Well before the pandemic hit, we've had this shortage in construction," he said. "It's only now post-pandemic when the labor shortage has hit other industries that we're starting to get the awareness. That would have been nice to see ten years ago."
Steve Caldwell of Ferguson Enterprises has watched the workforce fade for years.
“We're at least one, if not two generations, maybe even further in where it's college or bust. The whole narrative of any other industry has just gone, just disappeared. So, with that said, the people to fill those positions has disappeared," Caldwell said.
The “shop” classes that at one time were prevalent in schools began to fade away so there have been several years where those opportunities were not there for students, but the jobs in Ohio are there.
“The current stats are there are over 64,000 open jobs in the construction industry. That's a staggering number!” according to Caldwell.
And they pay well, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Currently, a carpentry career in Ohio would land you over $52,000 a year. that's just one of many lucrative opportunities in the industry.
The lack of workers in the trade industry certainly has an effect on society, according to Caldwell.
“If you ever want to build a house, buy a house, rent a house. move into a house, the cost of living is going to go exponentially higher when you only have half the people that are required to actually do the work to make it more people doing something make it less expensive," he said.
At Auburn Career Center in Concord Township, local high students are studying and preparing to go into these industries. See more in Dave Chudowsky's report below.