Design and Construction, Fire Safety, Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations, Training

NFPA Unveils 2024 Outlook for Skilled Trades Industry

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released its second annual Industry Trends Survey, which reveals skilled trade workers’ sentiment around the current state of labor, training, and technology on the jobsite.

NFPA collected responses from 310 U.S.-based workers in the electrical, manufacturing, construction, engineering, architect/design, facility maintenance, fire service, and insurance/risk management fields. In 2024, the skilled trades industry can expect the following trends based on this survey data:

Tech Integration Remains King and will Be Prioritized in the Skilled Trades Industry

This year, skilled tradespeople acknowledged the need for technology. When asked what additional skills or knowledge areas they believe are essential for the future success of professionals in their field, the survey found:

  • 46.4% of respondents identified tech integration as a crucial skill;
  • 46% noted digital tools will help increase communication methods;
  • 28% believe technology will help improve accuracy and safety in day-to-day operations (up from 25% in 2023); and
  • 70% said they would be interested in trying new, diverse tools on the jobsite (up from 68% in 2023).

The Skilled Labor Job Shortage will Remain a Concern for Workers

When asked to predict top challenges at work in 2024, 53% of respondents said the shortage of qualified hiring candidates, up from 45% the year prior. Additional responses included:

  • 39% cited lack of knowledge sharing and collaboration on the jobsite (down from 42% in 2023); and
  • 30% noted an influx in co-workers retiring (up from 28% in 2023).

“Our greatest asset is not the tools we use, but the skilled hands that wield them,” said Jim Pauley, president and CEO of the NFPA. “In 2024, the scarcity of skilled workers will cause organizations to redefine their approach and focus on what matters most. Training is not merely an investment; it is the lifeblood of sustainability, where every worker is not just skilled but empowered to build the bridges to progress.”

Additionally, the shortage will affect how respondents plan to budget in 2024:

  • 40% of respondents anticipate their organization’s budget will be focused on increased hiring to replace or add jobs;
  • 32% noted budget will be used to update manual or outdated equipment; and
  • 24% believe it’ll be used to increase training for employees.

Overall, this data remains consistent with the previous year’s data and emphasizes the continued focus on labor within the industry.

Trainings, Certifications, and Membership will Elevate the Workforce, Creating New Opportunities

Heading into the new year, over half of respondents (51%) plan to upskill their roles by taking part in more trainings than they did in 2023, while 42% plan to make this same increase in certifications.

When asked to pinpoint the value of certifications, respondents noted the following:

  • 52% pointed to a higher level of confidence thanks to certifications;
  • 49% upskilled their career by learning new processes and techniques;
  • 35% found greater success in hiring/retention with multiple certifications under their belt; and
  • 32% felt safer knowing they understand the tools and process they’re working on.

“Investing in continuous growth isn’t just a strategy; it’s a commitment to excellence,” said Pauley. “As we dive into the new year, professionals are embracing industry certifications and memberships, forging a path of innovation, resilience, and unparalleled craftsmanship.”

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