SAN ANTONIO — Luke Burke knew he didn’t want to go to college after auditing a class with his brother. Instead, he leaned toward the skills he picked up at Earl Warren High School’s Construction Career Academy.
The 19-year-old walked out of high school with a job at TDIndustries as a plumbing apprentice.
“I love it because it’s a good job,” Burke said.
According to Burke, his projects can pay anywhere from $16.50 to $35 per hour. He’s currently on a job site for a new Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Westover Hills.
The more he progresses in his craft, the more cash he’ll bring home.
“And that can be 40, 50 dollars an hour,” He said. “I’ve heard master plumbers making $100 an hour.”
Isaiah Alers is an alum of the Warren High CCA too. He graduated in 2018 with no plans to go to college or the military. Alers joined the H-E-B army.
“I was always close to want to fix everything whenever it breaks. And figuring out how it works,” he said.
Alers is a UHT Filler Operator at the H-E-B milk plant. He makes sure the machine keeps running to get the company-produced milk onto store shelves and into customers' refrigerators.
The Texas grocery giant pays him more than $50,000 a year.
Both Alers and Burke picked careers where there are shortages.
Staffing firm Manpower Group’s annual Talent Shortage review reports the U.S. is a developed country that doesn’t have enough workers to fill the needs of employers.
The report said there is a 69% worker void nationally. Manpower Group measured that at three times higher than it was a decade ago.
“Anything related to remote work or prevention of a pandemic spread are occupations that are becoming increasingly important,” Thomas Tunstall said.
Tunstall works at the Institute of Economic Development at UTSA. He said jobs at bars and retail spaces are at risk during this global pandemic.
“The workplace is multi-varied, and there are a lot of places for people to fit,” he said.
His assessment matches Manpower Group’s top ten list of careers with worker shortages:
- Skilled Trades (Electricians, Welders, Mechanics)
- IT Personnel (Cybersecurity, Network admin, Tech Support)
- Sales & Marketing (Sales rep/Manager, Graphic designers)
- Engineering(Chemical, Electrical, Civil, Mechanical)
- Accounting and Finance (Certified Accountants, auditors, financial analyst)
- Driving/Logistics(Truck, delivery, construction, mass transit)
- Customer Support (Call center operators, Customer service reps)
- Professionals (Project Managers, Researchers, lawyers)
“Clearly, with the economic uncertainty that we’re facing, having a versatile skill set is certainly to one’s advantage,” Tunstall said.
He said having a trade and a college degree does not hurt. The days of either/or are gone. And, Tunstall said exposing children to career paths earlier in life could strengthen their future.
Alers said H-E-B is a good fit. He didn’t graduate with debt like some of his friends. Unlike those he greatly appreciates who serve in the military, his job only keeps him away from home for 12 hours a day, five days a week.
“I feel happy with the position that I’m in,” Alers said.
The average trade school degree costs around $33,000, while the estimated price tag for a four-year college degree is $127,000.
Burke said there is a huge age gap in the master plumbers and journeymen on the job. Everyone is either older or younger; there’s no in-between.
“A lot of millennials and their parents pushed towards college a lot because of their parents,” Burke said. “So a lot of people that should have been in the trades or could have been in the trades—they didn’t know it was an option.”