Job optimism found in some industries

July 8, 2011 6:32:39 PM PDT
The latest job numbers leave little to cheer about, but there is some hope on the horizon in certain industries.

Even with unemployment back on the rise, there are a few specific areas where companies actually can't find enough qualified workers. A new report from the staffing firm Manpower lists the top ten, with the job at the top of the list requiring a hard hat.

Carpenters, plumbers and electricians are part of a group of people who work in the skills trade, a vital part of the construction industry and one of the hardest jobs to find qualified applicants for according to the study.

"With the work that we do, you don't want to have power that aren't skilled and aren't trained," said Paul Kennedy, a fourth-generation electrician. "What we do is dangerous. Anything can go wrong at any time, and if you don't have the proper training, you're not an asset to the job site."

Kennedy started as an electrician by attending a union trading program in San Mateo County and becoming an apprentice. The waiting list for such apprenticeships is hundreds of people long due to the recession putting a stop on many building projects.

"It's not fair to the person to bring them and put them into a class and say, 'just go find your own job.'" said Kathleen Barber. "We don't view it that way, so if there's no job, we don't want to bring them in."

Barber, who heads the union's training program, says things are about to rapidly turn around for skilled tradesmen, with three hospitals and an airport terminal to be built within the next year.

That's one reason why the skilled construction trades top the list of jobs Manpower predicts will have al ot of vacancies with nobody to fill them. Those jobs are followed by sales representatives, engineers, drivers and accounting staff.

Also in the top ten are information technology staffers, managers, teachers, administrative staff and machinist.

Carpenter Ben Khoo has been on the electrician's training program list for a while now. With more work on the horizon, the union finally has space to let Khoo in.

"Being an electrician was something that I always wanted to do, but I was fortunate to be in the carpenters' union, so I had a job in the meantime while I was waiting," Khoo said.

The head of that training program points out there will be even more openings in a few years, because a lot of electricians are getting closer to retirement.

Manpower says not as many people are going into those trades as they were a generation ago, but that means more opportunity -- and more money -- for those who do.

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