U.S. Secretary of Labor Chao announces skilled trades initiative

April 12, 2004

On April 6, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced the "Skills to Build America's Future" initiative, a nationwide outreach and education effort designed to attract young people and transitioning workers to careers in the skilled trades and to address the growing need for workers in the construction industry.

"Today we need the skills and talents of a new generation of skilled tradesmen and women," said Chao. "Over the next few years, many jobs will be created in the skilled trades, and even more opportunities will open up as the Baby Boom generation retires. The skilled trades offer more than great jobs—they also play a key role in building America's future."

Partners in the initiative include the Construction Industry Round Table, the National Heavy and Highway Alliance and its affiliated international unions, and the National Association of Home Builders.

According to the Department of Labor, many of the skilled trades currently are facing a shortage of workers and the number of people needed to fill these jobs is expected to increase dramatically over the next several years. Construction laborers, operating engineers, carpenters, ironworkers, cement masons, bricklayers, truck drivers, and other construction-related crafts are among the trades expected to see the greatest demand in workers over the next six years.

"The best way to ensure a pipeline of workers entering the skilled trades is to build awareness among young people and workers transitioning to new careers of the quality and quantity of industry opportunities," said Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training. "This new generation of skilled trades workers will build the structural and economic foundation of America for the 21st century and beyond."

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