Good news! Skilled trades are in demand! Question: does anyone care?

In Emily Prieffer’s article, The construction industry’s top workforce challenge — and 3 potential solutions, she found that 69% of general contractors are having a tough time filling craft positions. While the article is based on the construction industry its close relative, the service industry, is having the same issue.

What’s a craft position? In the 2000’s craft positions were called “Skilled Labor”,  “The Trades” in the nineties and “Blue Collar” in the eighties.
Whatever you call them, they include:
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Pipefitters
  • Welders
  • HVAC technicians
…to name only a few.

Why the shortage in HVAC and other trades?

Starting in the 1980’s, it all became about going to college. “Everyone needs a college education”, became a mantra for parents and educators. Preparing kids for college became the focus. Few parents or schools wanted little Jenny or little Johnny to swing a wrench for a living. As a result, vocational education began its current 30-year nosedive.
You can almost picture the conversation in a high school guidance counselor’s office:
Counselor: “…little Johnny isn’t doing well in school. We should steer him towards the (gasp) trades before he turns to a life of crime”
Parents: “working with his hands?!” (the mother faints, the father swallows his nicotine gum)
Father: “so, prison may still be an option…” (sigh of relief)
Yes, we’re exaggerating (save the snarky replies for another post) …but you get the point. The trades were no longer first on many people’s list of career choices.

Together we can revive Vocational Education

…and save our world! Well at least make if function better. We need people to build and maintain or vital infrastructure. We need good paying jobs so that we can raise American’s next generation.
Begin telling anyone who will listen that the trades are a legitimate career choice.
Tell them that HVAC and the other trades pay well. Let them know that these are in demand jobs and a career path to be proud of. Destroy the “grease monkey”, knuckle dragging myths. Talk about computerized control boards, IR cameras, and clean rooms.  Don’t assume that your white-collar brother-in-law, you know the one trapped in a soul-crushing cubicle all day, has any idea what tradespeople actually do today.
Hint-don’t preach to the choir. Tradespeople already know the advantages of entering the trades.


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Patrick is Zen HVAC’s diagnostic and training guy. Patrick started in the trade the day he left technical school and never looked back. He's served in various technical and training roles in the HVAC industry but specializes in system troubleshooting and diagnostics, retro commissioning, and technical training. His moto: If I can understand it, anybody can. Patrick uses the Zen common sense approach to teach Patrick’s Likes- His Wife, kids and dog. Old pickup trucks. Hiking. The industrial Revolution. Patrick’s Dislikes- Taking work too seriously. Anything unintuitive. Emoticons :( Patrick’s Favorite famous person- Theodore Roosevelt “I am only an average man, But I work harder at it than the average man" Famous Patrick Quote- “Well, that was stupid of me”

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