Words or Wood: Why We Need Skilled Trade Workers



There’s a natural life path people have been following for years to be successful: college, college, college, college-based job. Often now, this path is seen as the only way to be successful. You must traditionally academically educate yourself for a corporation or service. English, math, science, history, and the variations of these core teachings are vital to success. It’s the way it is now in 2018: corporate or homeless. Except it’s really not.

At the moment, the world does primarily cultivate young doctors, lawyers, marketers, and traditional university-endorsed degree jobs, but the world is changing. Youtubers make millions of dollars every day. People with steady jobs get laid off. People who go to college don’t use their college degrees. This natural and safe path of life has been uprooted drastically, to say the least. While the world will always need doctors, lawyers, marketers, and traditional university-endorsed degree jobs, the world also needs artists, youtubers, skilled trade workers, and occupations that are not always supported or encouraged.

The fact is that many of our trade workers, our carpenters, electricians, welders, painters, industrial designers, etc. are growing older. In 2012, according to EMSI and Forbes Magazine, 53 percent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were 45 years and older. Nearly 19 percent were between the ages of 55 and 64. Typically, people retire and get replaced in the workforce. A doctor retires, there are more doctors. Everything is okay. However, people are not replacing the skilled-trade workers. The number of trained workers is just gradually decreasing.

This is bad news because we need skilled trade workers. You can’t outsource electricians overseas. Factory operators can’t supervise via Facetime. They have to be here. In person.

Circling back to this idea about college success, no one is telling young high schoolers that they don’t need to be a doctor, even if they were the valedictorian of their class, to earn an income to support the means they wish to live by. The only thing preached is further education, which is not a bad idea, just not holistically explained.

Skilled trade workers undergo training and education. They may be required to take courses and gain certifications, it’s just different. They take apprenticeships and the required courses to gain their own certification, just like a doctor or teacher gains the required certification for a bachelor’s or doctorate’s degree. It all boils down to what qualifications are required for a job. For skilled trade workers, this is not college always, but it is further education. The first step in solving this shortage is to explain that skilled trade workers are very valuable and to encourage these jobs as a post-high school option.

People want to be sure that they can live an expensive life if they choose. No one wants to worry about money. Skilled trade workers have a stigma about being underpaid, which does contribute to the lack of young people rushing to fill these jobs. Just as a comparison, to show the invalidity of this, the average journalist can make about $40,000 a year, varying depending on experience and location. Often times this is not the case. A journalist may start out even as low as $20,000 a year. The average carpenter can make $45,000 a year; again experience, talent, and location can increase or decrease this number. The only difference is training: words or wood.


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