Amarillo, TX (KFDA) - Available employees for one trade in the panhandle have declined drastically.
Officials tell us the necessity for electricians in the panhandle has now reached critical levels and they know exactly why: The average age of a licensed electrician in the state of Texas is 58-years-old. And now, the industry is in dire need of those wanting to make a career out of it.
The Independent Electrical Contractors of the Panhandle attributes the decline to the recession. They also say it starts at school.
"The high schools and the colleges were directing people towards computer trades, then after that nursing, and the trades pretty much fell to the wayside," says Robert Chambers of Chambers Electric.
The association is now stepping in with an apprenticeship program in hopes of alleviating some of the stress of no electricians.
"The apprenticeship program is 4 years on the job training," Chambers said. "They go to school one night a week. They have homework that they have to do, they have to accumulate 8,000 hours to get their license."
In addition to this program, the IEC of the Panhandle is also working with Amarillo Independent School District to implement a similar program in a local high school.
"You can look all around Amarillo and see the construction going on. The need is so great and the demand is so great, but they're not there to hire. They're just not there, so we've got to basically teach and train our own right out of high school," says Chambers.
The average pay for apprentices while they obtain their certification ranges from $12 to $18 per hour, another incentive they are hoping will bring more skilled workers in.
For more details on the apprenticeship, visit www.IECTP.org