Why Technical Skills Can Mean Job Security in a Pandemic for Some Workers

skilled worker during covid

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The novel coronavirus has brought widespread change to the way we live, work and socialize. In a global pandemic, some jobs have disappeared or changed, while some have been highlighted as “essential.”1

Three of these jobs—HVAC technician, welder and electrician—have shown how technical skills can mean job security in a pandemic. In other words, these jobs will continue to be needed for the essential functioning of society.1

See more about these 3 essential skilled trades occupations below.

Who Are Considered Essential Workers?

In May of 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) created an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list.1 This list, while not an official federal directive, outlines some guidelines as to what types of jobs are considered “essential to critical infrastructure.”1

Each state and local municipality can determine their own essential workforce, which will be federally supported.1 In other words, if a good or service provided by a worker is considered vital, in some way, to life and welfare, the job could be considered essential.2

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For example, the pandemic has made it clear that some fields, such as the medical field, are of utmost importance to a healthy and functioning society.1 Hospital workers are among those who may be required to report to work in person during the pandemic.2

While healthcare may be the most obvious field of essential work, other fields in which workers are considered essential include public health and safety, essential products and infrastructure support.2

3 Skilled Trades Jobs Considered Essential

Thirty-three million workers have applied for unemployment since March 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.3 Yet, millions of workers are still on the job providing critical services.3

While some businesses, industries and organizations have suffered, many fields deemed essential have continued to be needed.3

The Economic Policy Institute identified 12 essential industries that employ over 55 million workers.3 About 30% of essential occupations are in healthcare, 20% are in food and agriculture and 12% are in the industrial, commercial, residential facilities and services industry.3

Of this last category, we can look briefly at why 3 skilled trades occupations are considered essential: HVAC tech, welder and electrician.1

1. HVAC Technician

CISA has identified HVAC technicians as essential workers in the category of “Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services.”1 HVAC technicians provide services that are necessary to maintaining the sanitation, safety and essential operation of residences, buildings and businesses.1

An HVAC technician’s job duties can include installing, cleaning and maintaining HVAC systems.4 This regulation of indoor climates is very important to some critical settings, such as hospitals and senior living facilities.1,4

Refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine and other essential items.4 From 2020-2030, this field is expected to grow 5%, adding 19,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).5

2. Welder

Welders would fall under CISA’s category of “Critical Manufacturing” for essential workers.1 Welders work with metals, such as steel and aluminum, for a variety of critical industries and supply chains, such as aerospace, energy, transportation and the operation of dams.1 Welders are needed in these and other industries.6

Essentially, any industry that needs metal parts joined together needs the specialized skills of welders.6 Bridges, buildings, pipelines, power plants and refineries all rely on the technical skills of welders.6

Welders provide an important function to society, and the BLS expects around 34,100 welding jobs to be added to the labor market from 2020 to 2030.7

3. Electrician

Electricians are considered essential in multiple categories as determined by CISA: energy, electricity industry, public works and commercial facilities.1 Electricians perform important duties anywhere there is electricity—in homes, businesses, commercial facilities, factories and more.8 These skilled trades workers are needed to install and maintain these lighting and power systems.8

Because almost every building operates on an electrical power system, electricians are essential to keeping society’s buildings running.8 In fact, more electricians are needed in the coming years.9 The BLS predicts that this occupation will be growing faster than average from 2020 to 2030, with an 9% employment change of 66,100 more jobs.9

Technical Skills Training for Essential Careers

How can you become an essential worker? The Economic Policy Institute reports that nearly 70% of essential workers do not have a college degree.3

In the case of becoming an HVAC tech, welder or electrician, different levels of technical training may be necessary or helpful. Vocational schools can offer hands-on training to prepare job candidates for an entry-level job in the field.

HVAC Technician Training

In as little as 6 months, it is possible to complete the Refrigeration Technologies HVAC training program, which teaches the fundamentals of refrigeration, as well as systems and practices for commercial and residential buildings.

Electrician Training

The Electrical Applications electrician training program at RSI teaches basic electrical principles and introduces students to the National Electric Code (NEC) in as little as 7 months.

Welder Training

The Welding Specialist welding training program is at least 7 months long and instructs students in welding fundamentals, as well as specific welding techniques, such as GMAW and pipe welding.

Join the Essential Workforce

These 3 types of essential workers are vital to keeping our lighting and electricity, heating and cooling, and critical infrastructure operating. According to the BLS, each of these fields is expected to continue growing.5,7,9 This suggests that HVAC techs, welders and electricians will likely continue to be needed for a well-functioning society—both in times of health and crisis.

If you’re interested in training for one of these essential careers, get in touch with the team at RSI today, so you can see what vocational training could hold in store for you. Call 866-820-0823 today.

Additional Sources