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Shortage of electricians in Colorado despite surge in growth and construction

Our Colorado: Skilled trades becoming endangered
Posted at 4:50 PM, May 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 19:51:44-04

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DENVER — Low unemployment is an indicator of Colorado's robust economy.

But, there are also jobs out there that aren't being filled.

Right now, we have a shortage of people with skilled trades. Particularly, electricians.

"You get on one job, you get one done and then two more come in," said electrician Eric Graybill.

He was working for an electrical company for 11 years, but just a few months ago – he branched off and started his own business, Lighthouse Electric.

"It's just, it's crazy,” Graybill said. “There's too much work out there."

In fact, just last week - two electrical union reps knocked on his door at home, offering him a job on the spot.

"That's the first time I've ever had somebody knock on my door and ask me if I wanted a job," Graybill said. “And many of those companies are offering incentives like signing bonuses and stuff like that.”

It's the same issue for general contractors like Nate Latimer.

"All my work is 100 percent referral work,” Latimer said. “And I'm actually having to turn down referrals."

Skilled trades are an endangered species these days, as more and more young people are opting for jobs in technology, energy and healthcare.

"We're not getting the young guys coming into the trade," Graybill said.

Because of the shortage - trade schools are ramping up recruitment efforts.

Independent Electrical Contractors of Rocky Mountains in Northglenn is one of largest electrical schools in the nation.

Just this week, they had a “wire-off” where young people compete for scholarships in an industry trying to spark some new excitement.

"The pay is obviously good, and it’s just a good industry to be in right now,” said Michael Lempka, a student at IECRM. “Absolutely. There's a lot of work.”

“If we don't get these guys coming in to learn the trade, it's going to get even worse," Graybill said.

In the short time we spent with Graybill, he took two more phone calls offering him work. A surge of jobs in an industry short on help.