The Digitalization of Vocational Trades Is Upon Us

Updated: Mar 25

IoT Repairmen, Smart Home specialists, AI technicians. Gen Z will need to know these trades.

There has always been a shortage of labor in the vocational trades. A vast majority of high-school grads attend University right after high school, but few tap into the trades. Rob Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders, perfectly summarized this problematic pattern: “The construction industry lost 1.5 million workers during the recession, and we’ve only brought back about 600,000. The median age of a construction worker right now is more than 40 years old. The long-term problem is, who’s going to be the next generation of construction workers?” But this problem gets even worse in the digital age: for every electrician, there are probably a hundred to a thousand fewer individuals that know how to fix IoT devices, drones, and AI systems. The digitalization of trades is already upon us, and it is important to prepare the next generation to be able to handle this reality.

According to Mordor Intelligence, “The global IoT market is expected to reach a value of USD 1,386.06 billion by 2026 from USD 761.4 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 10.53%, during the period 2021-2026.” In addition, the Drone Market is expected to grow by 42.8 billion by 2025. Naturally, with an increase in demand for Internet of Things products and Commercial Drones for Industrial use and other purposes, the next generation has no choice but to learn these trades.

Jobs that we can anticipate in this sector include Smart Home designers and Technicians, Smart Home quality assurance inspectors, Drone mechanics/repairmen, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) specialists, and HVACs that specialize in AI integrated systems. We will quickly begin to experience an evolution of vocational schools that will begin to augment the traditional crafts with digital aspects. As mentioned, the need for more specialists in these fields comes at an all time high in the new environment of Industry 5.0.

What’s more, the trades have always come with high job security, great benefits, and excellent pay right from entry level. For example, according to Trades Hub, electricians receive a starting salary of $34,300 and can earn as much as $79,700 after just 5 years on the job. In today’s mess of a jobs market, vocational school suddenly sounds incredibly appealing. What’s more, individuals that will specialize in digital trades will likely receive even higher pay than traditional trades, as the talent pool is incredibly small at this point in time.

To conclude, the digitalization of trades is upon us, and will require the upskilling and reskilling of vocational students to be able to sustain the demands that our digital world places upon us.

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