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Fewer young adults applying for trade positions despite more openings

Posted at 6:07 AM, Jan 24, 2023

There's a big need to get more young people into skilled labor jobs, but fewer of them are applying for those positions.

The application rate among students on the online recruiting platform Handshake dropped 49 percent in 2022 compared to 2020.

In 2020, there were about 10 applications per job. In 2022 it was down to about five per opening. This comes as more technical jobs are being posted.

There were more than 45,000 of these full-time positions posted in 2022, a 41% increase from last year, according to Handshake.

“I think this generation is just as talented, just as hard-working, just as willing to do the trade work and as and as good at it as previous generations,” said Paul Iversen, an educator with the University of Iowa Labor Center. “It's just a matter of this generation, we need to do some active recruitment rather than just waiting for them to come to us.”

Iversen coordinates a pre-apprenticeship that recruits people underrepresented in the trades, including 16 to 24 year olds.

It's one of many programs across the country that helps prepare people for an apprenticeship program.

He says for a long time, trades were passed down within families.

“It's clear that word of mouth passing down within families isn't enough to recruit the people that are going to replace the retiring the tradespeople,” Iversen said.

He has seen success in getting young people interested through one-on one-communication with high school counselors and technical education teachers. They help identify students who would be good for a pre-apprenticeship program.