May 23, 2006 9:25 AM
Want a job?
Xcel Energy is looking for more than a few good workers.
The company is having trouble finding hundreds of people needed to build a $1.4 billion power plant in Pueblo, reports Gargi Chakrabarty.
A lack of skilled workers - electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, carpenters, welders and boiler makers - along with union restrictions on whom it can hire are part of the problem. Fewer than 400 workers showed up at a job fair last week in Pueblo, which has the highest unemployment rate among the state's metro areas.
Construction projects around the state as well as rebuilding in Gulf Coast hurricane areas are drawing workers away from Pueblo. Howard Arnold, of the Pipefitters union believes the aging of baby boomers is affecting the availability of skilled workers. Ray Aguilera, a Pueblo City Councilman, said young people are encouraged to attend college but few are encouraged to go to trade schools to become plumbers or pipefitters:
"It is easier to find a brain surgeon than to get an electrician to come to your home. It is a complicated situation."