Entry into technical schools has declined since the 1970’s and 80’s, creating a shortage of skilled workers. This trend has caused a major disruption in the manufacturing and service industries over the last 20 years in the United States. Many factors have contributed to the decline of enrollment in vocational schools but one of the biggest factors has been the multi-generational shift around encouraging young adults to purse a path around a 2 or 4 year college degree. In 2020, 40 percent of young adults ranging from 18 to 24 years enrolled in a 4 year university and 20 percent enrolled in 2 year institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics). As a result, enrollment in trade and vocational schools is low with an overabundance of college applicants entering the job market. In addition, COVID-19 exacerbated this trend as many older skilled workers retired early, to avoid getting sick, without enough younger skilled workers to immediately offset the decline in laborers.
Ramifications of Labor Shortage
The ramifications of the labor shortage have led to longer wait times on projects and higher construction costs. Not only is the immediate construction industry being affected but the surrounding ecosystem is feeling the ramifications as well. For example, manufacturers that supply materials to this industry are also being distressed because there is not enough labor to install projects and thus those projects cannot be completed in an acceptable timeframe. In addition, project delays increase costs to contractors as they are paying premium salaries to existing workers and overtime for additional labor hours, just to meet customer timeframe expectations.
The International Association of Lighting Management Companies (NALMCO) is leading the combat against labor shortage through a number of initiatives currently active within the association. First and foremost is NALMCO’s professional lighting management certification that allows members to quickly train new employees; as well as promote existing employees as they increase their knowledge by obtaining NALMCO’s advanced certifications.
The ground level certification offered by NALMCO is the Certified Apprentice Lighting Technician (CALT). This certification offers students and new technicians foundation to learn basic lighting terminology and lighting management operations crucial for technicians. Once the CALT is obtained, technicians can prepare for the Certified Senior Lighting Technician (CSLT) certification to further their knowledge of the industry and advance their careers. Eventually, those that want to continue advancing their careers within the industry, can work toward the Certified Lighting Management Consultant (CLMC), which recognizes those individuals that demonstrate superior knowledge and technical expertise.
NALMCO is the first association in the lighting industry to constitute a nationally accredited lighting management certification program. Offering both technical and professional certifications, these are cost-effective, convenient, and teach technicians, young and old, to become leaders in the industry. The education gap being filled by NALMCO’s certification programs will help with a growing market demand for labor. Click here: NALMCO Certifications to learn more about NALMCO’s certification programs.
In addition to certifications, NALMCO is partnering with technical schools to help contractors find future employees that are fluent in lighting technology, which reduces the onboarding time for a new employee to get up to speed on the nuances of the lighting industry. The overwhelming benefit to the students that are a part of a program like this is that it allows them to be marketable upon graduation due to them having a specialization in the lighting industry. If you are a contractor that would like to learn more about setting up a program like this, do not hesitate to contact NALMCO. In addition, if you are a high school, vocational school, or technical school, that would like to create a lighting management certification program, NALMCO would be more than willing to offer their expertise in this area.
How Acuity Brands Can Help
Acuity Brands’ core values start at the center of community and support efforts to inspire the lighting industry. One of the ways that Acuity Brands has recently demonstrated this core value is when Acuity Brands partnered with Mayor Andre Dickens, the City of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Technical College to give youth opportunities to meaningful careers. Critical jobs like electricians are being sponsored by our industry as the electric grid in the U.S. will need to double over the next 20 years. Here in Atlanta, Acuity Brands is also sponsoring lab technicians and truck drivers as these high paying careers can create generational opportunities for families. Acuity Brands highly recognizes the needs of the construction market and is taking steps to help support the industry from the ground up. Please visit Insight Lighting News to read more about this partnership.
In addition, Acuity Academy offers training and education to expand knowledge of lighting, controls, and building management technical knowledge. With this training, students can speed up knowledge of basic lighting terminology and solutions. Acuity Brands' extensive product portfolio is also easy to install in the field. With energy savings as a focus, contractors are also saving with these energy efficient products. This allows less labor hours to be credited to contractors and quicker, simpler installations for those that are just entering the industry. To learn more about Acuity Brands product portfolio, please visit the website.
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David Errigo, Director of Renovation Sales