The construction trades have been hit hard by the emphasis many people put on their kids to attend four-year colleges.
Karli Meisinger, Eyman’s Construction Department Manager, says there is a definite shortage of skilled trades people at both the field and office levels in Omaha.
Plumbers participate in a five-year apprenticeship program. They graduate when their knowledge and experience lets them test out.
Unlike some college graduates, plumbers find jobs pretty quickly after they graduate.
“There’s still this perception there’s something wrong when you get your hands dirty. But there really isn’t,” Meisinger said.
“Whether you get a college degree, become a plumber or work in another of the trades, they’re all honest ways to make a living.”
She said it’s so ingrained that their kids should attend college that many parents miss other opportunities.
That’s why the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) offers children from kindergarten through 6th grade a hands-on introduction to the construction trades.
Meisinger is the vice president of the NAWIC’s Greater Omaha Chapter.
“As the baby boomers retire from their careers in the trades, plumbers and fitters and many other positions will be need,” she said. “They’ll always be needed as long as people enjoy their hot showers and indoor plumbing. Those things don’t maintain themselves.”
Meisinger said most of the people she works with are much happier in the field than sitting at a desk.
Women Move into Construction
Meisinger has been in the industry for 15 years. Although she has seen an increase in women in the trades, it’s still a largely male-dominated industry.
She said in Omaha there are many women-owned construction businesses, which seems a relatively new development.
“Just a lack of awareness that it’s a viable career path keeps women from getting involved,” she said.
Meisinger said Eyman always has had strong women in upper management. She said the company is very open to and supportive of them being in charge.
“The Eymans have been the pioneers, and they’ve let me come along for the ride.”