A shot in the arm for the blue collar movement

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eric aune 2Over the last couple years I’ve outlined some of the major challenges we have at manning the skilled trade job site here on The Hub. My time in front of the classroom has put a lot into perspective regarding the want or need to learn among existing trade workers as well (check out A problem in the classroom).

Just this week I read a very insightful and encouraging article from the NPR New Boom series on millennials in America titled Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades. Talk of future skilled worker shortages has been going on for some time now but to see it cast in a national spotlight is refreshing.  You can read the entire article by clicking here.

In the 90s and early 00s, everything was about the business world; taking away the focus on manual labor. Wall Street was going gangbusters, this new fangled thing called the Internet was taking off, and dream jobs were those in which you sat in an office with a computer and made millions. Those jobs were not terribly difficult to come by and were most definitely more attractive than lugging an old oil burner up two flights from the basement. Today’s youth have those same notions of where the good jobs are, but nowhere near the same success in finding them. While the job market is improving from the economy’s nosedive six or seven years ago, it’s still not what it was pre-recession, especially for new college graduates, for whom the unemployment rate is around 8.5%, versus 5.6% for the workforce as a whole. It’s time young people looked outside the white collar box when it comes to landing a steady, good paying job and as the NPR article has said as much we can only hope our young people [and their parents] are getting the message.

In August of 2013 we pitted college loan debt and 4-year school enrollment against that of our trade/vocational school numbers in the U.S. You can see the comparison by clicking on the picture below.


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With college loan debt at an all-time high and lower and lower forecast wages for college grads we are still seeing a growth trend in 4-year college enrollment and a slight decline in trade school interest.  The numbers don’t lie but the path to the trades has seen better days when compared to the well-worn road to college life.

My partner John Mesenbrink gave us all a look back into his formative years and how he ended up in the 4-year university system. John, if faced with having to do it all over again, says he’d choose the trades. You can read his story here: Path to the trades starts in the living room.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on the subject so leave a comment here or email us anytime. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook too where we share ideas, have a little fun and get the latest in news, tools and products to you faster than anyone else in the industry. Thanks for you time.

Eric Aune

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