Closing the Workforce Gap

WORMLEYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Jolie Calvo is days away from graduating high school. She’s already an assistant project engineer at Pyramid Construction.

“There’s not many young people at all,” she said.

That simple fact the building blocks of a complicated problem.

“We’re seeing the better part of four or five people retire this year and we’ve got one or two coming in,” said Michael Klinepeter, vice president of Pyramid Construction. “There’s a gap from the newer generation coming up and the older generation that are looking toward retirement.”

The problem isn’t limited to construction. It includes plumbing, HVAC, and more.

“It’s dry wallers, it’s mechanical contractors, plumbers, electricians, painters,” Klinepeter said. “All the way down the line.”

That line ends with us, the consumer.

“If we’ve got folks that would like to use us for our services, we may or may not be able to provide that service to them, and it may or may not be at a higher cost,” Klinepeter said.

There’s a blueprint for a solution.

“We’re real-time addressing those needs by having that connection with business and industry,” said Lesli Shuman, principal at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School.

That means forming partnerships with businesses that will help train and hire students.

“They transition right into the world of work or higher ed,” Shuman said.

They are also trying to reconstruct a bad stereotype.

“We’ve found out that you really have to sell it to the parents because the parents are of my generation where it was vo-tech, slow-tech. And it’s not, it’s career tech at this point,” Shuman said. “This is what the workforce needs and these kids are leaving with incredible skills.”

“I think eventually it’ll seek it’s own balance,” Klinepeter said.

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