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Good paying trade jobs going unfilled

At a time when more than one-in-ten people are unemployed, some industries are begging for workers.

It’s a struggle that Paul Beattie knows well. Beattie owns Beattie Development and Bergau Plumbing, and his plumbers work on everything from new construction to service calls.

But good help is hard to find.

“I’ve only been able to add one guy in the past 18 months consistently on the service side that shows up,” Beattie said.

Limited help brings limited jobs.

“We do have to turn down calls on a daily because plumbing service is an immediate need. And right now we only have three service techs,” Beattie said.

To help with the issue, the company has hired some people with no experience and pays for their schooling.

Brian Crowther is one of them.

“Working with my hands versus being inside the office, I get a lot more gratification,” Crowther said.

Prior to plumbing, Crowther was a painter and a stay-at-home dad. And so far, he is loving his new career.

“I’m going into class asking people if you know how you like your job are you happy where you’re at? If you’re looking, we’re looking,” Crowther said.

And it’s not just plumbers. The skilled labor shortage is the​ top concern for builders according to a National Association of Home Builders survey. That means builders, carpenters and electricians are in need, too.

The cost of a local plumbing program is about $5,300 whereas the average college student loan debt is about $33,000.

The average salary for a recent college grad is about $50,000.  Two or three years out of trade school, a plumber could make about $40,000 with room to make up to six-figures after more than a decade. That doesn’t include overtime.

“Get out,” Crowther said. “Be a plumber. We need you.”

If the trade shortage worsens, repairs and remodels could get more expensive and take longer. When employers have to pay their people more, the cost could make its way to the consumer.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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