The construction industry is suffering from a labor shortage that has expanded with President Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration, but a solution could be found in San Antonio, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
On a tour of the Construction Careers Academy, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta says we can no longer rely on migrant labor to fuel the homebuilding industry. Instead, there must be more of an investment in a domestic labor force.
"Support programs like this," he said. "Let’s take our young Americans and teach them these skills."
The program at Warren High is one of the few high schools in the nation with a Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship program. Students are college & workforce ready.
Acosta says expanding programs like that across the country is the best option to meet market demands. He pointed to a long waiting list as proof that, despite what some thing, construction is a job that Americans will do.
"If we don't start thinking about how to fix this problem, we will always be in this cycle. We need to focus on our students right here, right now."
Program Coordinator Audrey Ethridge is glad the program is getting noticed at a national level. She says the need to skilled labor has never been larger.
"We were at the Home and Garden Show this weekend and one of the guys that I met there has a company. He goes, 'I build homes. I would build a lot more but I can't find anybody to work.'"
But despite the waiting list at CCA, there is still a public perception in some sectors that construction is not as desirable as other careers. Acosta says that needs to change.
"Are we celebrating the person who builds the hospital the same way as we celebrate the doctor who works in the hospital?"