A widening skills gap is threatening long-term economic growth across the United States. According to a 2018 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America, eighty percent of construction contractors say they are having difficulty filling available jobs.
Apprenticeship programs, like the one offered through the Carpenters Regional Council, tackles that problem, while providing a way out of the low-skill, low-pay jobs that too many young Americans are finding themselves trapped in.
“We work hard every day to train the safest, most highly skilled carpenters in the field,” Executive Secretary-Treasurer Al Bond told Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Senator Roy Blunt and Congresswoman Ann Wagner during a recent tour of the Nelson-Mulligan Carpenters’ Training Center in South St. Louis County.
Acosta, who has visited other Carpenters schools since his appointment as Labor Secretary, has criticized the practice of pushing high school students toward four-year colleges without emphasizing other options, like skilled trades training programs.
"With our nation’s strong economic growth, including more open jobs than Americans looking for jobs, apprenticeship programs like these help individuals learn in-demand skills that can lead to good, safe, family-sustaining careers," Acosta said.
During their St. Louis visit, Acosta, Blunt and Wagner met with CJAP students and the instructors who are preparing them for long-term careers in the construction industry. About 1,300 apprentices are currently enrolled in the Carpenters’ free training program thanks to the $11 million that the union pumps into nine schools each year. “We share similar goals with Secretary Acosta, Sen. Blunt and Rep. Wagner and welcome their leadership in bringing Labor and business together to develop innovative solutions to workforce development,” Bond said.