Skilled labor shortage leaves millions of open jobs

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – There’s a major skilled labor shortage across the country – leaving millions of open jobs. Locally, trade schools like Chicopee Comprehensive High School have recognized this trend and have altered their curriculum in an effort to combat this.

High paying trade jobs are sitting empty while high school students are focusing on college instead of the workforce.

High School students hear it over and over… you have to go to college. But that’s not always the best options for some students.

According to the Department of Labor, the U.S. economy had more than 7-million unfilled jobs, but only 6-million people were looking for work in 2019.

This issue is partly because of emphasis placed on college and not on entering the workforce right out of high school.

CTE Program Directer at Chicopee Comp, Kenneth Widelo, told 22News, “It’s just that there’s a big movement of older trades people retiring and then not enough students going into the trade area to fill up those positions.”

Nationally more and more students are going to traditional high schools instead of vocational schools.

But many schools like Chicopee Comprehensive High School have evolved from a typical vocational school model. Chicopee Comp has more than 600 students enrolled in their career and technical education program, which gives students the chance to prepare for college and careers.

Widelo told 22News, “For instance, a graduate out of our machine tool technology program would go onto engineering, not necessarily into the machine trade, but they are going to go into the trade in a different perspective.”

Over the last few years, there has been a greater push at the state level to increase funding for CTE programs across Massachusetts.

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