Happy National Tradesmen Day!
There’s a fundamental problem in America, and it’s two-fold. First, while there is rising unemployment, there is also an ever-growing rift between available jobs and people who have the skills required to fill them.
This is the true “skills gap.”
The second part of this problem is the pervasive bias in high schools that views trades as a type of “consolation prize” for those who aren’t smart or wealthy enough to attend a four-year school.
That’s not just a shame—it’s a shame on us. Americans have forgotten that there are still plenty of opportunities for skilled tradesmen to make an honest day’s living with their hands right here at home. These are highly-skilled jobs that require training and discipline. These jobs require an entirely different skill set than the ones valued by the “everyone should be college-bound” mentality we see prevailing in middle and high schools today.
Somewhere we’ve lost our way. Somewhere we started telling kids that white collar jobs are somehow more valuable to society than working with your hands to build our homes, bridges and schools.
Now we’re paying the price.
“We have fewer plumbers, pipe fitters, etc., and at the same time we have more people unemployed…We stopped making it cool and viable for people from a very early age to aspire to those things.”
– Mike Rowe, profoundlydisconnected.com
There are currently 600,000 available jobs in the skilled trades, but kids—whose high schools boarded up shop classrooms before they were born—no longer consider a career in these fields
That, my friends, is a serious skills gap, and it needs to be filled.
Folks like Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe are calling for a renewed focus on the trades by our young people. We do that by killing the stigmas that remain and ending the college degree bias that exists in our schools.
Tradesmen once were revered. Looking back on nostalgic photos of rugged men hanging out on elevated girders with their lunch pails take us back to the golden age of high rises and the industrial era. These men built our great cities.
But would you suggest to your mechanically-minded son or daughter to explore a career as a plumber? Exactly. That feeling you just experienced is called bias, and it needs to change. The truth is, these are potentially high-paying jobs. It’s time to remember the dignity and satisfaction that is gained from an honest day’s work. And, it’s time to tell the whole truth—like the fact that many skilled tradesmen can earn upwards of six figure salaries. And owning your own business is something that’s becoming more and more popular.
National Tradesmen Day was created by Irwin Tools to build awareness of these issues. It’s not about losing jobs overseas—it’s about recapturing the interest and dignity of the jobs that are right here, and will remain here in the United States. We like that and want to be a part of this growing movement.
So let’s change the mindset in this country—and that begins with each of us. Friday, September 20th is National Tradesmen Day, and let’s consider thanking a tradesman by taking a box of donuts or some coffee to the guy who works at the tire store, or your building maintenance worker or the nearest plumber, electrician or carpenter.
It’s a start.