More people are looking toward technical colleges to earn their degrees or improve their pay.
(ROSENBERG, Texas) – There is a shortage of skilled workers in construction and technical jobs. The Associated General Contractors of America found that around 89 percent of contractors are struggling to find workers to fill roles.
Despite this shortage, there may be a brighter future on the horizon as more people look toward technical colleges to earn their degrees.
Kent Weed, a career services representative at Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus, found that young people coming out of high school are becoming increasingly less interested in traditional universities. Students tend to cite money, length and a desire for hands-on work as driving factors in their decision to choose a technical college over a 4-year university.
Additionally, technical colleges like TSTC have seen a surge in nontraditional students coming in from the workforce looking to gain further education.
“A lot of our welding students in particular are nontraditional,” Weed said. “They are getting the certificate and degree needed to get higher pay, since they are already working in industry.”
With such a shortage of workers, companies and employers are also changing the way they go about hiring. Jamie Jimenez, another TSTC Career Services representative, found that employers are beginning to look for technical skills and degrees for entry-level positions.
“We’ve seen in the job postings that employers want fewer bachelor’s degrees for entry level,” Jimenez said. “Even when I started almost three years ago, even some of the entry level positions wanted bachelor’s degrees. Now, however, we are seeing more and more of the technical degrees listed as a requirement.”
This is a growing trend among employers throughout the technical industries, Jimenez and Weed find. Even job search terminology is beginning to change to reflect this renewed interest in technical skills.
“They are even changing some of the job search engines to include technical degrees,” Jimenez said. “The terminology is changing too. Terms like technician are replacing more traditional terms like engineer.”
Career Services staff work with students to update their resumes to reflect this new shift in the hiring market. One emphasis that Jimenez and Weed stress is the hands-on learning that takes place.
“You have a lot of students who learn in different ways,” Jimenez said. “The fact that they are coming to a technical school means they want to work with their hands. That’s something employers look for when hiring.”
Weed added that hiring from technical colleges means employers have to do less training and can be more assured that those they do hire are invested in the work.
“Companies used to hire people off the street and train them themselves,” Weed said. “That’s becoming a rarity. The investment of time and money they would put in to train that person from the ground up wasn’t worth it if the person ended up changing companies or quitting altogether.”
Jimenez found that students are also looking toward technical colleges as a viable option more than they ever had in the past. A huge reason for that, she stated, is that high schools are offering more technical classes such as welding or auto collision. Those classes can spark a young person’s interest, resulting in them seeking out colleges like TSTC.
“Students are finding out what they like and want to do and technical colleges are helping them make a career out of it,” Jimenez said.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.