Utah Foundation: Construction, Technology Fields Short-Staffed; Social Expectations To Blame

May 15, 2017

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A new report released in May by the Utah Foundation shows that several skill-intensive industries in Utah are hard-pressed for new-hires with the right skills.

While local employers can fill bachelor-level positions relatively quickly, Utahns lack skills in construction, technology and trades.

Christopher Collard, a research analyst with the Utah Foundation, said social expectations play a role in the gap.

"There's this expectation that to be successful you have to have a four-year degree," he said. "And that's something that several industries, like the manufacturing industry and the construction industry, are fighting hard against to help young people as they graduate from high school; that there's an alternative to a four-year degree, that they can get a good job."

The report found that 6 in 10 parents expect their children to earn a degree, whereas 3 in 10 Utahns actually go on to obtain one. Collard’s research projects that only 29 percent of jobs in 2020 will require a degree.

"Utah has a system of technical colleges that are a very good resource for business in being able to help Utahns gain these skills," said Collard.

Alongside vocational studies, Collard suggests that specialty programs and on-the-job training will play a greater role in the coming years.