Why young people aren’t choosing careers in the trades and what can we do to change it.
A career in construction offers a multitude of opportunities. Though the benefits of becoming a skilled tradesperson are something to admire, younger generations are largely ignoring the possibility of joining a steady growth industry. The search for skilled tradespeople continues to become extremely difficult, but why is this?
Why Do Young People Avoid Trades?
We cannot pinpoint one specific reason why today’s youth are avoiding is avoiding the career path in the construction industry; however, there are a few key factors that stick out.
Over many decades, the perception of tradespeople has become negatively skewed. In large part, this is due to the negative advertising surrounding the trades, which have created unattractive stigmas. For the past decade, the trades have been presenting to misguided youth as their last and “only” option.
Perhaps the factor that stuck out to me is the influence. As a millennial myself, I can directly attest to the overwhelming focus on getting a college degree. Traditional College, even now, is taught to be the gold standard. From your parents, family, friend, teachers, and counselors College is the ultimate goal. It has is taught that College equals success, and “blue-collar” work was for those who were uneducated.
What Path Would You Choose?
Let’s break this down. One of the most popular degrees’s currently from a four-year university in Business and Management. While there are many things you can do with this degree, for the sake of this article we will say that they are using this degree to go into
Tradespeople have been branded as uneducated and unsuccessful financially; however, that isn’t the case. Many trades require institutional training and, once completed, jump straight into a well-paid full-time position.
Average Electrician Salary = $52,720-$92,804.
Average Plumber Salary = $50,000-$93,772.
Average HVAC Installer Salary = $44,247-$77,300.
The median salary of a person working in the trades is higher than some of the entry-level positions offered to recent college graduates. Not to mention, the education cost to become a skilled tradesperson is substantially lower than the majority of four-year colleges.
What can we do to help change it?
There is no perfect path to helping young people see the benefits of pursuing a career as a tradesperson; however, there are steps that we can take to improve the conversation.
- We need to improve the social perception. Teach our youth what it means to be a tradesperson by bringing awareness of trade education and requirements.
- Flaunt the fact that tradespeople have the opportunity to make great money while lowering the cost of education.
- Promote the limitless entrepreneurial opportunities that live within the construction industry and provide them with success stories about people that have had a great career in the trades.
- Encourage our school counselors, teachers, family, friends, and parents to provide options and specific education through high schools.
- Communication the recognition that there are excellent career advancement opportunities within the construction industry.
- Stop speaking negatively about manual labor positions like being a waste collector (sanitation worker), janitor, or construction worker.
As a society, we must acknowledge that tradespeople are critical for growth. If we lose tradespeople, we lose growth. So, we must change the narrative and start presenting trades as a successful career path for today’s youth.