Southcentral Kentucky faces skilled trade worker shortage; engineering company executive director explains why

FRANKLIN, Ky. – Senior Executive Director at Fluor, a Franklin engineering company, James Hartman said it’s extremely hard right now to hire trade skill workers.

“There’s a true shortage across all the trades right now,” said Hartman.

Hartman said that despite the wages between blue-collar and white-collar jobs leveling around the 2000s, companies in need of trade jobs can’t compete with the four-year college education push from educators.

“This issue really starts in elementary school. I mean educators really drive these kids to become educated, because you teach what you know,” said Hartman.

He said all kinds of technical jobs are desperate for pipefitters, mechanics, machinists, welders, painters, scaffold builders and the list goes on. Even local gas companies are struggling to fill their tanks due to lack of CDL drivers.

His company, Fluor, along with Logan Aluminum and SKYFAME pull high school students into qualified skilled trades training programs early on, hoping young adults will realize trade work is a strong career path, too.

“We’ve got to educate these kids to see opportunities that are out there and available to them in the skilled trades community,” said Hartman.