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Training for a Trade Encouraged in Face of Labor Shortage

Calling future building tradespeople!

We have some great building tradesmen in Grays Harbor – carpenters, electricians, welders, roofers, glaziers, masons, plumbers, etc.!

However, we could use some more! While it’s not desperate yet, the average age of those workers in the building trades in our state and nation is above that of other workers. Add that to the fact that the need for those trades is on the rise and expected to continue to rise, and we are likely looking at a shortage of skilled tradesmen in the next few years.

With it being back to school time around Grays Harbor, we thought we’d discuss today the opportunities and benefits of pursuing training in the trades.


With our work here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor, we interact all the time with people from a variety of building trades. So we can say with authority, that we have some quality workers in this county!

However, we can also see that in some of those fields, the work force is definitely aging and the need for additional trained, knowledgeable crew is growing.

The good news is that there are some quality vocational training opportunities both at area high schools and at Grays Harbor College.


When it comes to the carpentry program at Grays Harbor College, instructor Adam Pratt says the industry is hungering to hire his students.

“Our students are being hired! In fact, many of them are being offered jobs even before they graduate,” he said.

“Building has always been a boom and bust industry. Right now it is in a historic boom. Seattle is considered the strongest construction market in the country and Tacoma is right up there. And the contractors around the Harbor are having a hard time finding the right people, too.

“They need people who are willing to work and have a little bit of experience. Training people takes time and effort, so some employers are hesitant to absorb that cost. Our people come out with a strong background of safety, an understanding of tools and materials, and of building codes and blueprints. They are able to follow directions and produce a marketable product.

“They also have a strong understanding of required work habits. So many people don’t understand that work is work, it’s not called happy- fun time. Sometimes you have to work with someone you don’t particularly like, sometimes the weather is awful. In our program they learn that they need to show up every day, on time, sober, ready to work a full shift with a positive attitude,” Pratt said. .

Going through the two-year-program kind of vets them for future employers,” he said. “When they graduate from this program they have a degree that can’t be taken from them. Among other things it means, that for at least two years they got up early and showed up to learn.”

Understandably a fan of Grays Harbor College’s programs, Adam noted the many opportunities for a variety of scholarships and financial help for its students. “There is incredible financial help for students. In addition to help with tuition, there is financial help for child care and tool scholarships.

“Many of my students receive the $1,000 Hughes Tool scholarship,” he said. “When employers are looking for a new hire it’s great when my students can say, ‘Yes, I have my own tools and I’ve learned how to use them.’”

Sometimes the carpentry program has a wait list at GHC, but Pratt said that shouldn’t slow down any prospective students. It gives them time to take their math and English classes and typically a spot opens up soon.

Marjie Stratton, program coordinator for workforce education at GHC said that in addition to carpentry, the workforce education program offers welding, automotive technology, forestry, nursing, criminal justice CDL training as well as accounting, business management and business technology, commercial food prep, early childhood education and human services.

“I think that having the desire to work with their hands definitely drives people exploring these programs,” Marjie said. “However, technology has also entered these hands-on careers so that technology is a big part of it as well, it’s not just working with your hands anymore.”

Classes at Grays Harbor College start Sept. 18, so now’s the time to look into the offerings. To reach the Workforce education office, call 360 538-4011.


Thanks to all 157 or so of you who came out to the Aberdeen Solar Home Tour and Energy Fair last weekend. Many of you were pleasantly surprised how effective solar panels can be in this climate.

Plus, it’s always just great to visit with folks about whatever their housing concerns are!


In other news, we wanted to remind those who live on the south side of Aberdeen – that we are in the middle of conducting a resident housing survey in a specific neighborhood in South Aberdeen. We are attempting to get feedback from most of the houses between the Chehalis Bridge and the Westport highway and from Boone to the river.

Please participate when a volunteer in a green “I LOVE GRAYS HARBOR” shirt knocks on your door. The survey is also available at our office and at the Aberdeen Dennis Company. Thanks in advance!

And, thanks to Dennis Company for partnering with us to give a $7.50 coupon for each qualified neighborhood person filling out and returning the survey. The coupon applies to a single purchase of $25 or more. The coupon for Facebook surveys will be released from our office at 710 E. Market.

So, if you live between the Chehalis Bridge and the Westport highway and from Boone to the river and haven’t filled out one yet, please take the time to do so!

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

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