Dan Zwick and Brenton Hildebrand represent the shifting face of the modern work force.
Both landed in blue-collar jobs after starting down white-collar trails. Zwick entered college hoping to become a technology instructor, while Hildebrand studied pharmacy and engineering.
Until the real world intervened, they told reporter Kecia Bal.
Both men are enrolled in a paid training program with J&J Truck Bodies – turning their focus toward becoming welders or truck technicians.
And both are part of a growing business trend: People finding job security by learning new skills that match what the business community needs.
“I know the trade industry is booming again,” Hildebrand said. “I knew I needed a job soon. Now, I’m loving what I do every day.”
Zwick added: “I got a good job out of it.”
We salute these men and others who recognize that opportunities don’t always lie along your dream career path, or in the first place you look.
They realized that they could take their interests and skills in a different direction.
To better gauge local attitudes about job security, The Tribune-Democrat is running a short survey.
You can offer your thoughts at www.tribdem.com.
“The opportunity is here,” said Arleen Dacey, risk management director for Joseph B. Fay Co., a primary contractor on the Route 219 highway project in Somerset County.
“There is this shortfall in the skilled labor pool.”
The U.S. Department of Labor noted a decline in workers’ confidence in their ability to keep their jobs, or find comparable replacements if necessary.
The extreme negative reaction to that shift is that more displaced workers simply quit looking for new jobs, said Bill Findley, a retired workforce information specialist for the state Department of Labor and Industry Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.
“The labor force participation rate is impacted by people’s perception of their ability or inability to find a job,” Findley said in our Sunday report. “If they lose a job or are a job-seeker and think there is nothing out there, they drop out, for a long list of reasons.”
The positive reaction is what Zwick and Hildebrand have done: Try something new in the quest for security.
“In the trades, there are more positions opening,” said Debi Balog, workforce development director at Johnstown Area Regional Industries.
And like workers, employers are apprehensive about shortages in key labor areas as veteran staffers hit retirement age, she said.
Ours is a region on the road to economic recovery.
We applaud companies that recognize the need to train the next generation of workers – to fill openings with the right skill sets.
And we salute those individuals with the foresight to adapt to shifts in the economic winds.
Jeff Dick, site administrator for Cambria and Somerset County CareerLink offices, said a positive trend is both companies and potential workers investing in the jobs they recognize will be in demand for years to come.
“People are recognizing a need,” Dick said.