The Skillwork Forum | Where are the High-Paying Skilled Labor Jobs?

Where are the High-Paying Skilled Labor Jobs?
What skilled trade jobs will continue to be in demand in the future?
There are lots of changes happening these days—fortunately for skilled workers, demand for labor is not one of them. Companies need skilled workers more than ever, and many of them will pay admirable wages to get the help they need.
However, there is significant difference in pay depending on your position, skills, and expertise.
Finding the highest-paying skilled trade jobs all comes down to understanding demand. In this episode we’ll look at where industry is growing, what the manufacturing and construction companies really need, and how you can make sure you’re one of the workers in high demand.




Main Takeaways:

🛠 The labor shortage will continue, making ALL trade jobs in high demand
🛠 Evolving technology is already changing required skills
🛠 High-paying skilled labor jobs are most often electrical/mechanical
🛠 Advancing your knowledge with training and certifications increases pay
🛠 High-tech, high-expertise jobs will pay the most in the future


00:00-2:45 | How we determine what jobs will be in high demand
2:45-5:39 | The “COVID exit” and other causes for the trade shortage
5:40-9:50 | New skills in demand because of increased automation and tech
9:51-18:50 | Jobs that will see the most wage growth
18:51-21:36 | Advance your skills with certifications to advance your pay
21:37-24:45 | Opportunities for skilled craftsmen


💬 “There’s still a tremendously high demand for what we call traditional trades: plumbers, carpenters, electricians…” Tim Raglin
💬 “It’s a good place to be when companies are competing for your talent.” Tim Raglin
💬 “It really is a seller’s market if you’re a skilled tradesman.” Tim Raglin
💬 “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a really big move towards a more connected system…but we’re already starting to see it.” Brett Elliott
💬 “Invest in yourself. Take time to take a class.” Brett Elliott
💬 “Advance your skills, and with that, it’s going to advance your pay.” Brett Elliott
💬 “Companies right now are doing all kinds of creative things to allow you to get the training and certification at either low or no cost to yourself.” Tim Raglin

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TSWF Ep.35 | Where Are The High Paying Trade Jobs? – Transcript


Tim, Brett

Tim  00:00

We’re going to talk about some specific jobs that you might find attractive in this next era that we’re in. And actually, we’re already in it now, but one of the ones in our own personal experience in our business, but we do a lot of research, we try to keep up on trends. And here’s a few of the jobs that the demand is going to continue to grow, where you can expect to see the greatest possibility to get the most accelerated wage growth.

Tim  00:34

Hello, and welcome to The Skillwork Forum. As always, we gather to talk about emerging trends, industry issues, and really challenges surrounding the skilled trades as a whole. My name is Tim, I’m joined, as always, with my partner, Brett, thank you for taking the time to to watch us here today. And we’re gonna turn our attention to focus a little bit on you as a skilled craftsman out there. And specifically, we’re going to address the issue of where are the best, or the highest paying jobs going to be in the future? And that’s something you’re all of us are highly motivated by, but where will the trends take us into the next three to five years on where the highest paying jobs going to be? It really comes down to supply and demand like most things in the marketplace. So the question is, what will the manufacturing, and construction, transportation, other industries need? What are they going to need? What is the demand going to be that there are less available assets to fill that demand? So where are the where are the jobs going to be? Where the industry is growing, they need they need the workers to be able to do the job, and where are we going with respect to that in the next year. So that’s kind of the topic of where we’re going to be today, Brett and kind of give you some of our thoughts on that.

Brett  01:56

Yeah, no, that’s great. Thanks, Tim. And so, yeah, I know, you know, we talk about it probably often on on podcasts and just amongst ourselves, but maybe to kind of kind of reset, you know, the skilled trade demand, you know, just continues to be extremely high, you know, some people might want to want to argue this, but I would I’ll put out there, we’re still in a free market society. And so and so, you know, the supply and demand in a free market, society, you know, means that, obviously, as demand increases, the pay is going to go up. I know, we hear from a lot of you guys out there doing the work that the pay is not going up fast enough. And we don’t disagree on that in some spaces.

Brett  02:45

But I think one of the things we want to present today is, is where is that pay going up? Where are those opportunities for skilled tradesmen to really look forward and see where this demand is going? The things that continue to drive it, just to kind of, you know, almost speak a little bit, I guess, to the obvious, but maybe not obvious to everybody, but the, you know, what I now label as the as the “COVID exit”, you know, you had a lot of skilled trade individuals that were upper end of the baby boomer age bracket that have opted to leave the workforce, because of the situations out there. They just felt the risk, or they were they were furloughed for a season and just decided not, not not to come back. And so, so that accelerated what is already one of the biggest drivers of this this supply shortage, which is this baby boomer retirement. Tim and I just looked at an article, I think it was from, actually wasn’t an article, it was a study done by Korn Ferry Institute. And they indicated in there not just in skilled trades, obviously across all spectrums, but that the baby boomer generation, for the next 15-20 years, something of that, is reaching retirement age 10,000 per day. And so –

Tim  04:15

That’s 10,000 a day exiting.

Brett  04:17

Yep. Yeah, not necessarily exiting, but reaching that retirement age. So the the assumption is, they’re they’re getting closer to exiting. Some are electing to stay in the workforce a little longer, you know, because their employers are begging them to stay because they don’t have anybody to backfill. But but that’s a staggering number. When when you hear us talk about this gap, and that, you know, just in the skilled trades, you know, we’re we’re going from a million to 2 million they project over the next years. It’s driven off of that. The COVID exit only made it even worse. And so, and then, you know, obviously the whole beginning of this issue was the vocational pullback, from vocational trades in our education system for the last 20 years. You know, we say it all the time, you know, this is not a problem that got created overnight, and it is not going to get fixed overnight. So.

Tim  05:13

No, so I mean, you set up there really well, the fact that there is the supply issue, and you know, where is the demand going to drive your greatest potential to be able to, you know, demand a higher wage and be able to go into those industries that not only provide you, you know, better economic footing, but also stability going into the future.

Tim  05:40

So, with that, we also want to iterate that we’re going to talk about some of these newer skills or the, you know, more technical base skills, but also, we just want to iterate that there’s still a tremendously high demand for what we call traditional trades, plumbers, carpenters, your electricians, so that’s still going to be there. And that’s not going to go anywhere in the near term. Those wages may lag, their growth may lag a little bit as compared to some of these other industries that we’re going to be talking about. But the growing the biggest gap, and in terms of need, and what’s going to drive wage has to do in some of these newer skills. A few episodes ago, I think it’s 26-27, you can look it up on our YouTube channel, we talked about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, more detail there about this technology, automation, complexity and the workforce. That’s coming, and also a big part of what’s going to drive and we haven’t mentioned this yet, but there is a continuing lack and a shrinking workforce of what we call frontline production workers or say that, you know, the less skilled tradesmen, or folks out there that work in manufacturing, construction, etc. so the fewer though those that are available, that the greater the drive towards more automation and technology to answer that, and that in turn drives the need for higher automation and technology capability, and the people that are going to be working at your facility to be able to support that.

Tim  06:40

So nearly all skilled trades are going to be seeing a wage increase. And that’s great. But obviously along with that, you know, we’re not economists, but look around, there is a risk of inflation, prices are going up. So as wages go up, there’s going to be an increasing rise in prices and so forth, as well. So the demand again, is going to be there and for the new advanced skills. So what are some of the what are some of the areas that we think we’re going to be seeing industries that are going to be pulling in these jobs? And what type of jobs that we’ve seen?

Brett  07:54

Yeah, I think we’re already you know, we’re already on the on the on the beginning, we’re already starting to see it, and a lot of the clients that we work with, to help find jobs for the skilled trades, guys. You know, and Tim, you hit on it a minute ago, it’s, it’s, it’s a bit of a perfect storm, we already we already kind of talked about the supply demand issue, and the things are driving that. But then you you put on top of that, this, this idea that they can’t find, you know, we talked to two plants, I’ve been in the manufacturing space, you know, for 30 plus years. And you know, so I know a lot of talk to plant managers while and they said they’ve never, they’ve never seen it as bad as as it is right now to try to find help, just to find – not forget the skilled trades, because those are – just people. Just get us some people.

Tim  08:45

Production line workers. Yeah,

Brett  08:47

Yep. So you know, when a when a pain point, you know, that we often say, you know, you really won’t change a lot of things about the things that we do until the pain reaches a high enough level that it matters to us. And so and so I think we’re starting to see that in the industry, which is going to drive as you said, Tim, greater automation, they’ll have no choice. We’re already seeing it in these plants. I was in a plant, I don’t know, a couple months ago, huge facility, highly automated 24/7. I mean, the whole plant had less than 600-700 workers in it, I’m telling you, this plant 20 years ago would have had 3000 people working in there, you know that, you know, because there would have been so much more handling. And one, the technology has caught up. But the requirement is is because it’s they’re going to automate it to make it more efficient, which puts a lot of demand on those those types of jobs. And so.

Tim  09:50

Yeah, I mean, we said at the beginning of this, what we’re going to talk about some specific jobs that you might find attractive in this next era that we’re in. And actually, we’re already in it now, but one of the ones in our own personal experience in our business, but we do a lot of research, we try to keep up on trends. And here’s a few of the jobs that the demand is going to continue to grow. And where you can expect to see the greatest possibility to get the most accelerated wage growth. So some of them, you know, are no surprise this anything related to electronics or control technicians, people that can do more advanced programming are what we’ll talk about later, is called low code development. So it’s not like computer programming, per se. But it is kind of a modular type of programming and coding that’s required to maintain some of this automated equipment. So the ability to translate your skills, maybe you’re an electrician today, or you’re a PLC technician, the ability to learn or be able to adapt to be able to do that low code development is going to be a great opportunity for you. So anything in that realm, mechanical, electrical is going to continue to be a great opportunity for for growing demand, I would say, probably of our business, we have, well over 50% of the people that we put in the field would fall generally into the electrical mechanical, and I don’t see that changing. And we certainly see very competitive wages in that arena as well. Construction Management, which is one that you would think well, you mean like a project manager on a construction? Why would that be growing? Well, number one, it’s a hard job, even in the best of situations, but we talked about it in this Fourth Industrial Revolution, that construction space, everything is becoming highly integrated, the tools that you use are very much driven by artificial intelligence, everything is connected. So just maybe an old school project manager on a construction job that’s not comfortable with technology, that is going the way of the buggy whip, you’re going to have to become more comfortable with technology. So construction management is one that we see is growing too. And Brett, you do a lot of work with some of your your clients that have ammonia refrigeration, and what what do you see in that?

Brett  12:20

Yeah, right now the demand is, you know, it’s one that’s a little near and dear to my heart, my dad was a ammonia refrigeration specialist, I always say, you know, in his day, he was probably the best in the country. And so, I’m a little bit you know, I also think the Buckeyes will win every game too. So I’m loyal, where I’m loyal. And so so the but but ya know, the demand right now for ammonia refrigeration, Op 2 cert guys, you guys that are in that space, or that are looking for a place to expand we, you know, at Skillwork, we actually we, we send guys to get further certification at whether we use GCAP, or there’s a couple other schools, GCAP’s probably the main one. And so, but getting that Creo certification, that PSM certification, that Op 2, and and those jobs, you know, even throw out wages to say – not that long ago, they were still trying to to hire those guys at $22, $24. Now we’ve got many companies now that are that are $30 to $35. So you know, that’s a pretty big jump in a in a span of time. If you’ve got that certification,

Tim  13:33

It is a big jump and what we’ve seen, and Brett mentioned our program and you know, again, innovation and getting people advanced training is something that we very much encourage companies to do. But if you have mechanical, electrical background skills, you’ve been around the plant, you’re better you’re familiar with ammonia refrigeration, it’s easily translatable with with a little bit of school and certification to take that aptitude, get that certification, understand that and you can you can jump your your wage from you know, 568 even $10

Brett  14:03

Yeah, yep, yep. Yeah, you throw a little overtime in that, you know, it’s, it makes a difference. It’s significant. And so, I think, Tim, you know, to that point, you know, the, I think that’s our encouragement to, to any of the skilled guys that are out there and are looking is to, to, if you’ve got that that mechanical background, add the ammonia certification as an example, if you’re somebody today, that’s an electrical mechanical, skilled person, our encouragement if you want to set yourself up well, for higher paying jobs, what we’re seeing consistently now, where, you know, probably early on in our, in our business, we had more requests for probably mechanics to be honest, you know, mechanic, you know, manufacturing mechanics, you know, guys that could do mechanical work, you know, you know, fix up the chain, change bearings, all that kind of stuff. More and more and, and part of it is, as we grow as a company, we get into some larger organizations, we’re getting more into plants that are maybe a little more automated. But consistently now, I was just on a call yesterday with a new company that’s looking for same thing, electronics, automation technicians, I mean that we’re hearing it more and more, and those wages are all, you know, north of $30. It’s interesting though, the guy yesterday, he said, Well, we want to pay around 30. But, you know, we don’t want to lose a guy over wage because we need the talent, so if we gotta pay more, we’ll pay more. And so, so, you know, I’m here. And, you know, in some industries, you know, definitely the pharmaceutical, and even some of the auto, I mean, they’re, they’re getting upwards of $40, you know, now, so that, and now it’s a bit of a fight for that talent.

Tim  15:57

Yeah, it’s, it’s a good place to be when companies are competing for your talent. And I experienced this, you know, in a previous life for software developers and people in technology, technology realm, that the demand was so high that the wages rose so fast. It really is a, you know, kind of a seller’s market, if you will, if you’re a skilled tradesman,  the demand is going to be there. But it’s important to recognize that while traditional trades will will continue to have opportunity, if you’re really looking for that those type of wages that you hear about, you need to add a little bit of technology, a little bit of advanced certification, do yourself a favor and pursue that we’ll talk about that a little bit in terms of what next steps are. So this whole idea about maintenance, that it’s going from reactive to predictive, you know, can you talk about that just in the whole and what what we’re seeing?

Brett  16:55

Yeah, you know, it’s, you know, like Tim mentioned a bit ago, you can go back, and I think he said was Episode 27, we talked about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is a really, really big move towards a more connected, you know, system, more predictive, a lot of sensors, a lot of the equipment talking to each other, but we’re really, we’re really already starting to see it. I mean, we’re seeing what they call for you, guys and gals that are out there in some of the space, you know what some of these terms mean, but, but HMI systems are, you know, there’s a, there’s a program out there, I’ll give them a little bit of call out is called Wonderware. But basically, what that is, is, is the equipment is now talking to, you know, when I say talking to each other, I mean, they’re not talking about you know, what’s on TV tonight, you know, but the ability to you know, be able to predict. And so from a lot of things from heat, from vibration, the sensors where today, our world for the most part in the manufacturers has always been reactive, you run it until it breaks. And and and you have a PM schedule, preventive maintenance schedule, that just you do certain things at certain times, that’s about as predictive…now, the technology is moving, it’s doing the predicting, so that you’re making these changes, makes your plant much more efficient.

Brett  18:21

Downtime is a huge issue in a facility, we’ve got a plant that we do work in right now, that they have, they have, they’re very sophisticated, they have it figured out, when a line goes down in that facility, it costs them between $700 and $1500 per minute, for for depending on what the product there is that they’re running on the line. So it’s a big deal. And to be able to make these plants more efficient. And to get more done in less time, and all those kinds of things. For the skilled guys is we’re saying, our encouragement is if you’re already in this space, or if you’re coming into this space, but especially if you’re already in this space, you know, invest in yourself. Take the time to take a class or to get all of our tools because I think the demand for the individuals who can do, you mentioned it a minute ago, you know, you know, it’s one thing to be able to hit a PLC panel and and see what sensor is out or whatever. But then in addition to be able to go into that, that logic, that ladder logic and do low code development, as we said, you don’t have to be a software programmer to really raise your demand for those skills. So the people that understand machine learning, even data analytics, low code development, these areas, we’re already starting to see it, and there’s some great talent out there. But I would encourage if you’re looking for, for where it’s going and you’re in that space in in the manufacturing space specifically or construction, I think more in the management, but it’s learning that technology and being aware of it is going to really allow you to advance your skills. And with that, it’s going to advance your pay.

Tim  20:12

Yeah, for sure. And I’d say, you know, a lot of guys, you may be somewhat intimidated by this, you know, I’m not a tech guy, you know, I don’t know how to do this. If you have strong mechanical electrical aptitude, if you understand that, the way this is going, it’s very modular, low code, programming, your skills, your aptitude translates very well. So I would say, you know, have confidence in your ability and take the step to get the skills and training necessary to move into that. Companies right now are doing all kinds of creative things to allow you to get the training and certification at either no or low cost to yourself. And I would also see out there, you know, Brett and I are both grandparents, at this point. But many of you out there have kids, and you know, they’re getting ready, they’re leaving high school, they’re going into college, maybe some of them are just very, you know, drawn into technology, but college and school is not their thing, what a great time to funnel them towards a high-tech skilled trade type job where they can quickly and rather than be in a ton of debt with with a college degree that may or may not help them at all, what a great opportunity to track, transfer that aptitude into an area within two to three years, they can be making a great a great living for the foreseeable future. So I just want to put a plug in for that.

Tim  21:37

So I guess though to finish that up, Brett, our final takeaway for you is, is that your job, if you’re a skilled craftsman out there, you’re in demand. If you’re a business owner out there, you’re a manager, you need skilled craftsmen – this is no surprise to you, you understand it. But the closer you are to those next generation skills, the higher the wage is going to be, it’s a simple supply and demand. So pursue those higher skills and look for opportunities where you can perhaps move to, from a location where you currently are and to another location or facility that gives you that opportunity. I would just say that’s one thing that our model provides not that we’re going to, you know, make a big hard push for Skillwork here, but just so you know, you do have an opportunity. Reach out to us or companies like us that are looking for great guys, great people, great talented craftsmen, and provide you opportunities to advance your skills to the next level, to travel, to have some freedom, and the opportunity to advance yourself, your family, by making a wage that’s commensurate with what your skill brings to the table. So any final thoughts before we wrap up?

Brett  22:55

No, I mean, I think you you said it, I you know, I just talked to a young guy, one of our Skillworkers just came on board with us. Exactly that story, Tim, he wants to now, he understood, he’s in his mid 20s, you know, one, the opportunity to go out and build I say build their resume, build your skillset, he wants more exposure to the technology and things. So you know, part of it is go get some training, some education, but part of it is be be somewhere where they’ll give you the opportunity while you’re advancing your mechanical skills and whatnot to be able to get some exposure to some of the automation and things. And be patient, you know, just learn it, you know, you don’t learn these things, you know, overnight, and then advance your technology. You can take classes online, there’s so many things that you can do. And companies for the most part, are excited that you want to learn. So they need it. So yeah, we would encourage that for sure.

Tim  23:58

Yeah, it’s a great it’s a great time to be in skilled trades, really is. You’re important to this country, crucial to our growth engine as a country, and definitely down on an individual company level. So we’ll wrap it up with that thought, here on The Skillwork Forum today. We want to again, thank you very much for taking time out of your day to listen to us here. Until next time, God bless and appreciate you very much. Thanks.

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