Home Youngkin’s solution to shortage of skilled tradespeople: Making it easier to be a skilled tradesperson

Youngkin’s solution to shortage of skilled tradespeople: Making it easier to be a skilled tradesperson

Chris Graham
glenn youngkin
(© Michael Robb Photography – Shutterstock)

There is a shortage of skilled tradespeople, and it would seem that there’d be two general ways to try to remedy that problem.

One would be to put more money into education in the trades, particularly some incentives for high-school students about to enter the job market, and adults looking for a career change, to seek to improve their skillsets.

The other approach is the one being advocated by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who this week is touting how the Virginia Board for Contractors, at his direction, has taken steps to just make it easier for people to qualify to become so-called skilled tradespeople.

The board also voted to eliminate regulatory-mandated continuing education in select trades, with a news release from the governor’s office saying that “government-mandated continuing education with no clearly identifiable public protection benefit is a burden on businesses and individuals requiring time, money, and energy for compliance.”

Basically, instead of working to produce more skilled workers, Youngkin is lowering the bar so that anybody can be a “skilled worker,” and allowing businesses to zero out the line item for continuing education, as if that won’t lead to greater costs in workplace accidents and workers’ compensation down the road.

“This is a major win for all Virginians,” said Youngkin, who actually seems to believe this nonsense, because he’s never worked a real job, so how would he know?

“Increasing opportunities for people to become licensed in high-demand, high-paying jobs while also helping businesses find the talent they desperately need will strengthen our Commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “Since day one, my administration has been working to reinvigorate job growth and make Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family. I’m confident that these actions will move us closer to that goal.”

The board, again, at Youngkin’s direction, voted to:

  • Reduce the years of experience requirement from four to two years, for skilled workers to become licensed as a journey-level tradesman for the most in-demand construction labor fields such as electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and gas fitting.
  • Add additional license qualification pathways allowing entry for skilled workers to become licensed with various combinations of experience and training.
  • Eliminate the regulatory mandate for continuing education in the trades.

“Construction firms are struggling to find enough qualified workers to meet consumer needs and contribute to economic growth. Not enough people are entering training programs for these types of jobs,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “There isn’t one solution to this problem. We are working to increase awareness and opportunities for apprenticeships and combined with making it easier for these skilled workers to become licensed and start working, we’ll begin to see a turnaround.”

There actually is another solution to this problem, but Republicans don’t like to throw money at people to better themselves by getting an education.

“Our boards are composed of practitioners, business owners, as well as citizens, and as part of Gov. Youngkin’s Day One commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and citizens across the Commonwealth, DPOR boards are evaluating the education and experience requirements of occupations to ensure we are not requiring more than is necessary to protect the public,” said DPOR Director Demetrios Melis.

Melis spells out the problem with Youngkin’s approach.

The business owners on the Virginia Board for Contractors are obviously looking selfishly at their bottom lines, and not the greater good.

That’s why you balance out board representation with not just citizens, but people who can give pushback to those with obvious self-interests at play.

You’re not going to get that with a governor who has sold completely out to business interests, of course.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

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