30 million jobs expected to open nationwide as the Baby Boomers retire, but who will fill them?

Published: Aug. 15, 2019 at 5:20 PM EDT
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Perhaps you’ve heard the path to success is going to college, getting a degree, and getting a good job.

But you don’t have to get a bachelor’s degree to get a good paying job. All you need is a skill.

There are two things going on in the workforce right now. More people than ever are going to college and their parents are getting ready to retire. The combination has created a huge demand for skilled labor.

That’s where Leyana Baggett comes into our story. She came to Augusta Technical College to become a nurse.

"Just for passing time, I decide to get into welding,” Baggett said.

Never did she imagine she would find her true passion behind a welding kit.

“I just found it fascinating, and, you know, I just wanted to try it out, so I went for it and I happen to be good at it,” Baggett said.

She also knows it's a good job. The median income for a welder is $41,000 a year, and that's with just a high school diploma. She also knows there's a shortage.

Baby Boomers make up the majority of the skilled labor force. By the end of the year, the majority of them are expected to retire, leaving more than 30 million jobs unfilled.

Donald Kelly, the training director for IBEW Local Union 1579, is trying to find 300 electricians to work at Plant Vogtle.

"During the day, I would say most of our members are currently at Plant Vogtle unit three and four. But we have work we did for the North Augusta GreenJackets stadium,” Kelly said. “One of our electrical contractors did that. We also did the Cyber Center here on Reynoalds and the Doctors Hospital addition."

The median income for an electrician is $55,000 a year and that's with just a high school diploma.

"I graduated in the early 2000’s, and they constantly push college prep. That's what you did. You went to a four-year school,” Kelly said. “Well, a lot of people don't know that you can go and make good money and not take out student loans and be an electrician or a pipe fitter or brick mason or something like that."

Here's how skilled jobs add up with professional jobs: the median pay for an elevator repair person is $79,000 a year. The median pay for an accountant with a college degree is just under it.

Here's another one: the median pay for a HVAC tech is $47,000. No bachelors required. The median income for a reporter is less than $43,000 and we're probably still paying on our student loans.

As the Baby Boomers retire, another demand is growing too. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts a 41 percent increase in home health care jobs.

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