LAS VEGAS (FOX5) - A shortage of skilled laborers has plagued contractors in the valley for years, but changes could be on the way, starting at the high school level.
According to some estimates, 70 percent of the skilled labor workforce in the valley has received no formal training whatsoever. Those who do have the proper certification have started to retire in big numbers.
At Southeast Career Technical Academy, a new generation of skilled laborers has been preparing to get their hands dirty.
"I figured you have to go to high school anyway, so why not learn something extra?" said SECTA student Kyle Ressler.
"I think it's a good field, I like hands-on stuff. It actually gets you doing something. Not everyone wants to go college for four years," said SECTA student Parker Wood.
These days, boys are not the only ones who want to play in the industrial-sized sand box.
"I just really like working with my hands, so I feel [SECTA] really gave me an opportunity to do that," said SECTA student Kristen Halstead.
The renewed interest in construction jobs has been a relief to valley contractors who said there is a big shortage of skilled laborers.
"Only 30 percent have had formal training, that have been through some form of apprenticeship. (They) have their licenses which is required by state," said Hasting Molzen, a journeyman plumber with Focus Plumbing.
"It is in so much demand that they do not have the manpower to bid on jobs," said Ray Alvey, construction instructor at SECTA.
With more and more certified laborers retiring from the field high schoolers like the ones at SECTA have been in high demand.
"They are going around to every school they can, to high schools and try to find people they can bring in to the trade," said Alvey.
In the past, one of the things keeping students from entering skilled labor programs like SECTA was stigma. For decades, parents told their kids to go to college and enter a white collar career. These days, things are changing. Students and parents have started to see the value of learning a trade.
"Yeah, it definitely pays," said Wood.
"You can go right out of high school making $50 plus an hour,” said Ressler
"You get retirement from the day you start, you get vacation, medical, dental, it's phenomenal," said Alvey.