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AAEAAQAAAAAAAATIAAAAJGE0ZWVjZmRhLTc5MWYtNDY5YS04Njc5LWY5YzFjYmQxNWRlYgBy Daniel Groves, CEO at Construction Labor Market Analyzer (CLMA) The following blog has been republished with permission from Daniel Groves and was originally published on Nov. 12, 2015. On November 10, 2015, during the GOP presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio boldly stated that "welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers." While I'm not qualified to opine on the abundance or shortage of philosophers; I am confident Sen. Rubio is correct with regard to welders. I believe the media covering this story missed the point by attempting to disprove his math rather than raising awareness of an opportunity to grow our economy. The Construction Labor Market Analyzer, which tracks and analyzes market supply, demand and risk for the skilled construction trades, indicates a shortage of over 180,000 welders in the U.S. over the next few years. While the U.S. education system pushes students toward college and rewards educators to perpetuate this quest, an increasing shortage of skilled workers goes unresolved. What's worse, student debt is escalating while many college graduates remain unemployed. Many young people prefer to work with their hands.  It's honorable and rewarding in many ways, particularly in the areas of job satisfaction and economics. Welders and other craft workers erect the buildings of impressive skylines; build the bridges that enable transportation; build the refineries and power plants that produce energy; build the manufacturing plants that employ countless employees; and drive the U.S. economy. Welders get things done. For their training and quality hard work, welders are paid well, often more than philosophers, and they should be well-compensated.  Yet too many young people are unaware of the opportunity and as a result, over the past decade there has been a 65% decrease in the number of 16-24 year olds entering the skilled trades. This trend is contributing to a skilled worker shortage that is escalating wages 2-4% annually and providing an excellent living for those who choose the trades, and welding in particular, as a career option. A quick Google search indicates that philosophy career opportunities in the U.S. also have value; however, preparation demands years of college, which these days would likely result in significant student debt.  After grinding it out, paying dues and advancing over the course of many years, those who excel can make a pretty good living ranging from a start of around $35,000 to well into 6-figures. While good philosophers likely won't go hungry, there doesn't seem to be an urgent call to fill these jobs. On the other hand, as the Construction Labor Market Analyzer indicates, there is a serious welder shortage in the U.S., so the financial reward for this career is richer and more immediate. Additionally, the hurdle for this current and outstanding career opportunity is much lower -- technical training (resulting in little or no educational debt), show up, work hard, stay off drugs and upgrade your skills -- while job satisfaction is quite high. Building something of lasting value contributes to an enormous sense of accomplishment and pride. Despite uninformed reporting by the media sophistry, welders who excel at their trade often earn comparable or greater compensation than philosophers ranging from a start of around $35,000 to over $150,000 depending on the project type and location.  In fact, there are companies in the Gulf Coast region who report that their welders make a base of $89,000 and up to $200,000 with overtime. Rather than debate which career path has a larger paycheck, I urge the media to draw attention to the numerous opportunities in the skilled trades where someone who desires to work with their hands can build a project, build a career, save for retirement and grow our economy.

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.