CBC hopes to fix welding shortage by attracting millennials - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CBC hopes to fix welding shortage by attracting millennials

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PASCO, WA - Trade professions like carpenters, HVAC technicians, and welders are seeing a shortage all over the country. Reporter Jaclyn Selesky stopped by Columbia Basin College today and talked with a welding professor and a welding consultant to find out the reason behind the shortage.

This national welding shortage of course affects everyone in these trade industries, but it also affects you in your everyday life.

"I mean the cars are welded together, the bridges you drive on are welded together, even the powerhouses that provide the light and the electricity to make your coffee in the morning is supported by welding," said Chris Mitchell, Columbia Basin College Welding Department Coordinator.

One of the biggest reasons for the shortage of skilled workers is that there's a large number of welders hitting their retirement age, so now there's a huge employment gap for millennials to fill.

"I'm concerned about the young people coming into the trades," said Gary Culbert, welding consultant. "Like I said they need to be going into the trades for a career."

Another reason we aren't seeing the younger generations going after these skilled labor jobs? There's a certain stigma that's attached to them.

"Welders, I feel like they've always kind of been looked down on, but if you put them in the workforce they're in great demand," said Mitchell. "They hold the workforce together."

"Everybody wants their child to be very successful, not knowing that you can be very successful in the trades," said Culbert.

So right now, trade industries across the nation don't have the manpower to meet our manufacturing needs. There isn't a shortage in work, there's a shortage in qualified workers.

"The codes have eased up a little bit and they've lowered the bar to actually get the power, the manpower I should say," said Mitchell.

And the worst case scenario affects us all.

"Failures," said Mitchell. "Personal lives. That's what scares us the most; everybody relies on us to do our job to keep them safe. If we can't do our jobs correctly, how safe can we keep them?"

But there is good news if you are interested in getting into the industry.

"There's always work, there's always demand around the country," said Culbert.