The Trades: An Opportunity of a Lifetime

Industry Growth

Demand for trades and craftspeople has always been high.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of construction laborers is projected to grow 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average of all occupations (5.2%).  For specialized and experienced tradespeople, demand follows a similar pattern.  Job growth for electricians is 10%, for plumbers 14%, for weldsmen.  Demand for these workers is driven from new construction and the maintenance of existing buildings.

Shrinking Labor Force

In contrast, the supply of talented craftspeople is getting smaller and smaller.  In 2017, workers age 55 and older made up nearly a quarter of the construction and manufacturing workforce, a share that has increased by 15 percentage points in the last 25 years.  As these craftspeople retire, the “grey tsunami” will exacerbate labor shortages.  This “grey tsunami” is also worrisome since these experienced craftsmen have a wealth of knowledge and experience that needs to be passed down.  Without enough newcomers, centuries of building craft and trade could be lost.


Getting people to consider a career in the trades has been challenging for the last several decades.  This is due to several factors, including less funding in high schools to expose young adults to the benefits of trade, Madison Avenue’s advertising bias toward white collar jobs, the belief that college is mandatory for all, and the reduction of vocational and trade education programs in higher education. 

Increasing the awareness of the trades as a viable and rewarding career is key, as is improving access to a quality education.  There are many myths about construction that need to be addressed.

At MTCopeland, we hope to raise awareness of the trades, share the knowledge and expertise from master journeymen, and help expedite the success of existing tradespeople in their careers as master craftspeople and entrepreneurs.

Let’s get building.



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