By Justin Walker

Skilled labor is often difficult to find, which is bad news for many industries.

The U.S. population is bigger than ever, and that means there are more bodies to house, more minds to teach and more mouths to feed.

But with a skilled labor shortage, it’s growing increasingly more difficult to keep up with the demands. Part of that stems from the fact that career and technical education (CTE) has taken a backseat in society.

Well, for some it has.

February is CTE Month, and many organizations are using this time to promote the many different options youth have for their future, including agriculture, construction and health science.

Of course, there are several organizations that do this year-round, especially in agriculture.

FFA is one of the most visible organizations devoted to inspiring and training the youth of America for future careers. Students involved in FFA build soft skills like communication and public speaking, develop leadership abilities and strengthen their self-confidence.

They also get skilled labor instruction in areas like welding, raising livestock, robotics, programming and more.

And these students won’t just be growing our nation’s food—though I’m thankful that is one of the many things they will be tasked with.

No, these young men and women will be future leaders in all areas of agriculture. They will be farmers and ranchers, food scientists, horticulturalists, agricultural teachers, communicators and policy developers.

And outside of agriculture. They’ll take the skills they’ve learned and excel in whatever career they choose to pursue.

This week is also National FFA Week. It’s a week that the organization recognizes achievements in youth development and agricultural awareness.

Texas FFA has the largest state membership, reaching students in urban, suburban and rural areas. Each of those students are exposed to career and technical education.

FFA isn’t alone in this effort either. 4-H is also devoted to engaging youth through every facet of agriculture. Texas Farm Bureau is dedicated to promoting agriculture to students, as well.

For everyone, the future is a little bit different. Some will go to college. Others will go to a trade school. Still others will step into a family business. Regardless of the career, skilled labor is needed. And with these organizations helping develop our youth, I think our future is bright indeed.