by Jennifer Munoz -

While many industries were hit hard during the pandemic, skilled trade jobs are booming.

Mary Jordan, with Gulf Coast Insurance and the Homebuilders Association of West Florida, said the problem is there aren't enough people taking the jobs.

The shortage of skilled trade workers is impacting new construction in the area.

“Contractors, their biggest problem is they can not meet the demand anymore for what's out, there isn't a shortage of work everyone wants a house or they have a remodel," said Jordan.

Because there aren't enough workers Jordan said new build construction projects are often running behind schedule.

Jordan said one of the reasons for the shortage is many older workers are retiring and not enough young people are being exposed to the trade career paths.

“We don't think necessarily that a plumber is the best position in the world for them to be in but there are plumbers out there that make six figures a year and they have no student debt,” Jordan said.

Schools like George Stone Technical College that offer programs like welding and HVAC have been working on recruiting more people.

Principal Thomas Rollins said they've been hosting virtual conferences with high school students that are trying to decide what's next.

“There is a perception there that these fields aren't going to provide as good of an opportunity down the road as some of the other fields that require a two or a four-year college degree and that is simply not true,” said Rollins.

Job opportunities are there Rollins said many of the students at George Stone have jobs lined up for when they complete the program. He would like to see a bigger push to get people trained and into the jobs.

"The employers here can't get new employees quick enough, so there is a huge opportunity for people that are trained and have some credentials to get good jobs in those fields," Rollins said.

The Homebuilders Association of West Florida offers scholarships every year for students looking to pursue a skilled trade job. Jordan said every year it's a challenge to get students to apply.

They will be sending out applications to local Northwest Florida schools later this week, they're hopeful they will get more students interested in entering the skilled trade field.