We have an image problem
When you think of the skilled trades what do you imagine? If you are like most people you may think of a six-pack toting guy with a plumber’s crack and a smile missing a tooth or two. We have an image problem and it persists in the face of some alarming statistics. We have spent three generations telling kids the only path to success is through a 4-year degree. This was wrong and it has led to the largest labor shortage the trades have ever seen. The work is assumed to be dirty, difficult, and for those who weren’t smart enough for college and need to work with their hands instead of their mind. It can be dirty, and it is often difficult, but it requires a great deal of skill and problem solving ability. True fact: Intelligence is a prerequisite for this line of work. We take pride in our work and know the value of what we do. Our work is measurable, tangible, and useful. I find a great deal of satisfaction in that.
Why the trades?
Quite simply – need. We have a dramatic need for skilled workers and these jobs offer great security and pay. The skilled trades are No. 1 in all job vacancies from 2010 to the present. 3-million jobs currently sit vacant with that number expected to climb to over 6 million during the next decade.
We have more jobs than people willing to do them. While this is great for anyone in the trades and their income potential, it is a sign of a looming nightmare. These jobs need to be filled or our infrastructure and economic growth will begin to crumble before our very eyes with nobody around to fix it.
Construction, along with health care and personal care, will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, as politicians debate a massive overhaul of the nation’s roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68 percent more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them. This means opportunity!
These jobs can not be outsourced. If you call for a plumber, you expect someone to arrive at your door within a few hours. A YouTube video walkthrough of a do-it-yourself toilet repair may be helpful for some, but when the toilet backs up into the shower you are going to call in a plumber. These jobs remain local and will not disappear because the owner decides to outsource. A company like ours can not simply relocate.
The skilled trades can offer a level of job security that other professional jobs just can’t. Service work like the type we perform is virtually recession proof. While jobs in the construction field can dry up during a recession, service work carries on. Water heaters still break, pipes spring leaks, and toilets get clogged no matter how the economy looks. Our jobs don’t evaporate when the economy dries up.
Skilled tradesman make good honest money. I’m fond of the saying, “Dirty work equals clean money.” I’m proud of the work I do. I’m proud to earn my money by helping others. There is satisfaction in a job well done that you can point to years later and say, “I helped build that.”
The national median pay of a plumber is $52,590 annually. That’s significantly higher than it is in the U.S. as a whole, where the average worker earned $36,200. Half make more, half make less. You can make a great living turning a wrench and if you want to become your own boss the trades offer an easy path to entrepreneurship. In unionized areas benefits can be generous as well.
The baby boomers that once dominated the blue collar industry have left an opening for those coming into the workforce, or those already experienced, to take over. Do you want to learn how you can be one of the few?
I am always happy to talk about the value of the trades. As an alum of Michigan State University I can speak about both life paths from experience. If you know an individual or group that may be interested in talking reach out to us.