A college degree…it is something that is consistently encouraged, and definitely has its benefits, but let’s be honest, college isn’t for everyone. If you are a hands-on type of person who would rather start your career immediately rather than sitting in a classroom for the next four years, we are here to tell you that skilled tradespeople are in high demand. The great thing about working in a trade is that there are plenty of opportunities for growth, apprenticeships, certificate earnings, and educational opportunities to become an expert in your desired field. The problem we are seeing today, and continues to worsen is the gap between retiring baby boomers and millennials and Gen Z’s lack of interest in the trades industry.
In today’s society, younger generations are not only encouraged to go straight to college after high school, but they (we) are often told there is no other option, and many times fed false information and misconceptions of the trade industry in order to encourage attending college vs. becoming a skilled tradesperson. Millennials and Generation Z often associate trades with unsafe, dirty, and labor intensive environments that pay minimal. While some trades do require you to get your hands dirty, many trades offer more than you would think. With many of them offering full benefits, pension packages, 401k plans, and room for advancements, the trade industry has more to offer than many start-up companies and small businesses. For millennials especially, not going to college was almost out of the question, even if the opportunity to work in a trade was immediately available after graduating high school. Which led to the issue of getting a degree in something that is of mild interest, while seemingly drowning in student loan debt upon completion. The trade and manufacturing industries are trying to discover ways to combat the issue of declining interest in skilled trade work, while still appealing to the younger generations need to have a four year degree. A fairly new concept sweeping the nation is the creation of trade specific programs at universities based on the needs of current manufacturing and trade trends. The goal is to increase yearly hires while improving the industry as a whole making it relevant and sufficient to fit the needs of our ever changing society.
One of the biggest issues the trade industry is struggling with today is the gap between retiring baby boomers and the inability to hire and retain millennials. According to The Manufacturing Institute, between 2015-2025 there will be an estimated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs that need to be filled and roughly 2 million are expected to go unfilled. With the job market so tight and the competition fierce, people need to know that there are other options for work aside from the average desk job. Trades consist of carpentry, electricians, mechanics, manufacturing, welding, construction, and so much more. Many of these trades offer various certificate programs all over the nation in order to help you succeed and continue to master your craft and allow you advancement opportunities. The great thing about the manufacturing and trade industry is that like every other industry it is evolving. The way we work in trade is different now than it was 50 years ago, but people fail to acknowledge that. With new technology and methodologies being created daily, trades are on the rise and workers are in demand!
If you are interested in a trade, finding an apprenticeship is a great option. The government is actually working hard to increase the budget for apprenticeship programs as well as the total number of apprenticeships available to the public. These programs set out to help the “beginner or middle skill” level tradespeople practice their craft in the footsteps of a master level tech. By shadowing a master level skilled tradesman, people new to the industry get hands on experience while adopting a mentor to help guide them through the industry and workplace.
If you’ve found yourself completely bored at the idea of a desk job, and enjoy working with your hands, consider switching gears and trying a trade. The trade industry is expected to be in high demand for new workers for the next 10 years. This means you have time to get the needed certifications and find apprenticeship programs to help you succeed. The idea that being college educated is the only way is seriously mistaken, especially for those interested in the manufacturing and trade industries. The most important thing is to follow your passion, once you do that, happiness and satisfaction will follow.