High paying jobs in the trades seeking workers

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The nation's unemployment rate stands at a historic 3.8 percent, the lowest in years. But there's one section of the economy that's really hurting for workers, the trades.

There's a major recruitment effort going on in Charlottesville to fill the ever-growing gap of skilled workers and jobs.

"There's a huge skills gap for tradesmen," said Greg Smith, the president of Design Electric, about trying to find qualified workers. "In fact, right there are six million jobs that are open, six million, not just for electricians, but plumbers, welders, skilled tradesmen.

Both private and public institutions are offering great deals to train a new generation of trade professionals.

At the University of Virginia, the UVA Facilities Management Apprenticeship Program teaches a skilled trade through a combination of on-the-job training, technical education and classroom instruction all in a four-year program.

Chelsea Short is now a licensed electrician.

"I went through a four-year program working full time, 40 hours a week, school one night a week and full benefits from day one, did that for four years, graduated, " she said.

She also says when she was accepted into the program, she was paid to learn her trade and now works full time for UVA.

In the private sector, Smith says his Charlottesville company does the same thing with no cost to those chosen after a short testing period.

"They get a two-week boot camp where they learn basic electrical skills and then they go onto the four-year apprenticeship program, so that's two semesters per year over four years," he said.

There's also a big push to get women in the trades. Recently, UVA Facilities Management and UVA Tradeswomen sponsored a toolbox workshop to introduce women to the trades.

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