As Texas recovers from the significant damages recently caused by Winter Storm Uri, the shortage of skilled tradespeople— such as plumbers—has become an urgent matter of public policy.

It is imperative that all students have access to career and technical education that will prepare them for high-wage, high-demand occupations that exist now and that are emerging in dynamic industries.

Data released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on March 9, 2021, sheds some light on a possible origin of this skilled trade gap. Of 82,076 students who completed a career and technology education program of study in 2018-19, only

  • 0.1% (or 123 students) were in HVAC and sheet metal,
  • 0.1% (or 103 students) were in plumbing and pipefitting,
  • 0.2% (or 196 students) were in electrical,
  • 0.7% (or 578 students) were in welding, and
  • 0.7% (or 573 students) were in IT support and services.

Testimony Before the Texas House Public Education Committee