Young people are driven away from jobs in the skilled trades not due to a lack of interest, but a lack of awareness, according to a new report.

Released by Stanley Black & Decker, the 2022 Makers Index highlights the benefits and misconceptions about the skilled trades.

Source: Stanley Black & Decker 2022 Makers Index.

The report projects 650,000 open construction jobs in the U.S. and 10 million unfilled manufacturing jobs worldwide.

And while 85% of young people value a skilled trades career, only 16% are very likely to consider a job in the field.

The report cites this ambivalence “at least partially driven by widespread misconceptions about both the quality of life and especially the income level the trades can offer.”

For instance, only 18% of young people believe there is a good pay potential in the skilled trades, when in reality “after five years, a person who attends trade school and then starts working will be $140,000 better off than "a student who enrolls in a four-year college before working."

Cutting-Edge Technology

After learning this information, 43% of survey respondents were much more positive about a career in the skilled trades.

The report also detailed misconceptions about workplace quality in the trades. 

89% of those in the skilled trades say they work with cutting-edge technology.

Large percentages of young people believe a trades career is physically demanding (81%), dangerous (73%), and dirty (62%), and only 23% believed the work included using cutting edge technology.

But “these beliefs are in contrast with the reality: 89% of those in the workforce say they work with cutting-edge technology."

“Broadening the understanding of skills and technology needed for a skilled trades career can help address this sentiment,” the report said.

Lack of Exposure

The report traces many of the highlighted issues to a lack of exposure with those in the trades. 

“Despite skilled trade jobs being well perceived—and delivering the financial stability and job satisfaction young people seek—there is something keeping these careers from being seen as accessible," the report notes.

Less than half (42%) of students have ever had a conversation about skilled trade careers with someone working in the field, and 37% never had a conversation with anyone about skilled trade careers.

Stanley Black & Decker's Global Impact Challenge represents a five-year, $25 million commitment to fund vocational skills training.

This lack of communication “explains why only 29% felt very well informed about how to start a career in the trades.”

The report sees an opportunity in that just over one-third (37%) of young people are “very confident” in their career path, meaning nearly 65% of young people could be persuaded to work a career in the trades after clearing misconceptions.

Stanley Black & Decker's Global Impact Challenge represents a five-year, $25 million commitment to fund vocational skills training and reskilling programs in the construction and manufacturing sectors.