One main reason for construction’s skilled-labor shortage is the lack of awareness and of a plan to build a pipeline of workers. Regrettably, nontraditional career paths often are not presented as viable and lucrative alternatives to college for young people graduating from high school. They are not often well informed about nontraditional career alternatives.
That’s too bad.
It is time to stop telling our young people that their only path to success is a four-year college degree."
I wanted to be an ironworker because I looked up to generations of ironworkers in my family. My father and uncles were ironworkers, and a few of my cousins are. I remember starting my career as an apprentice ironworker at Local 29 in Portland in 1986. I paid my way through college, working rebar in the summer. I worked as a journeyman in many areas of the trade.
By the second year of my apprenticeship, I knew that I wanted to be an apprentice coordinator.