This month, Angie’s List published an article discussed the shortages of skilled labor in many trades, from plumbing to HVAC. According to the article, hiring and retaining highly skilled workers in an industry like ours is becoming increasingly more difficult – something we’ve known for a long time.

Angie’s List sites a few reasons for dwindling numbers in this type of work – including the fact that the growing number of skilled workers reaching retirement age are not being equally replaced by young skilled labor workers. Rising material and transportation costs are also said to be factors in the decline in these special labor fields. As consumers look to hire skilled labor work from contractors, it becomes more difficult for them to find quality work and is contributing to rising prices.

This skilled labor shortage isn’t a new problem, especially in the HVAC profession. In fact, we wrote about this same topic last May. You can read that post here. Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs) testified in 2011 in front of the US Senate about this growing problem – a problem that is still very much alive today. “The Skills Gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In general, we’re surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn’t be. We’ve pretty much guaranteed it … In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of ‘higher education’ to such a lofty perch, that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled ‘alternative’,” said Rowe.

We couldn’t agree more with this statement from Rowe. We’re working hard to make up for this general lack of education opportunity by providing our own training programs for our employees. In fact, we provide 160 hours of initial training to all new technicians and plumbers and then partner with them through a tuition sharing program to enroll them in a local technical program. On top of that, we provide over 100 hours a year of ongoing training to all of our technicians, and require that they get all necessary licenses, as well as industry certifications like NATE. As you can see, we live up to our Core Value of Development. This also allows us to hire more based on the attitudes of our potential employees and then train for any skills they may need.

It’s very often overlooked, especially by youth, that careers in skilled labor fields offer great pay, incentives, benefits and, in the case of BelRed, vast amounts of paid training and education opportunities to further one’s career in the field. An article from AOL jobs even lists plumbers and HVAC service technicians as the second and third best paying jobs in the skilled labor field. These also happen to be two types of positions for which we’re currently hiring.

At BelRed, we believe in treating our employees well because we feel that will translate into them treating our customers well. Aside from the great training opportunities we provide, all of BelRed’s employees are guaranteed a steady workload, professional development, and a well-defined path that moves them beyond a job into a lifelong career. Employee care and training is one of the major reasons why we have been named as the Best Contractor to Work For in the Western US.

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