~~The skilled trades need workers, and the Heavy Equipment Operator Apprentice Program is a great opportunity for youth to enter a field with a living wage and a progressive career pathway. Joey, a Next Generation Zone young adult, participated in this training program and is now an Apprentice through the Inland Northwest AGC Apprenticeship Program. The average wage after training is $55,000 per year! There is a pending critical labor shortage in skilled trades and construction because many workers did not return to the trades after the Housing Crash of 2008-2009. The current average age of people in the skilled trades is 45 years old, while the average retirement age in these professions is 55-60 years old. Joey, along with others participating in the Next Generation Zone’s various apprenticeship programs, are bringing valuable youthful energy and diversity to this profession!