Killing the Stigma of the Trades
There is an unfortunate stigma surrounding the trades and it’s been present for several years now. Branded as a career path meant for those who failed to do well in school, many students diverge from trades jobs in order to find a career deemed more rewarding or “professional.”
Despite the negativity surrounding the trades, there are plenty of available jobs that not only come with a hefty paycheque but also the reward of knowing that you’ve contributed to the construction of a building, ensured the quality and delivery of everyday products and building the furniture that shows up in everyone’s homes.
The stigma associated with the trades lives around the rumour that people don’t need to be educated or experienced for these careers. But, the reality of the situation is that these jobs require degrees, hands-on experiences, and a dedication to the work in order to be successful. Being a hands-on worker doesn’t make a worker any less experienced than someone who entered into the workforce as a teacher or a business executive. A lot of trades positions require physical work, which may not speak to everyone but at the very least squashes the theory that trades workers don’t earn their money.
Don’t believe me? In 2014, Trent Soholt, executive director of the NSCSC told Maclean that he was trying to encourage high school and elementary students to get more involved with the trades. He gave some background information into what you learn as an apprentice, “Students can test electrical circuits, lay a brick wall, cut and fit pipes, use a welding simulator, mix and finish concrete and draft plans in a trailer made to look like one that might be on a real job site.” He added that many students leave his institution with a feeling of surprise at the fact that so much education and dedication went into trades careers.
For example, you need quite a bit of education. First, you’ll need to complete your GED. Once you earn your high school diploma, you need to complete an electrician apprenticeship, which takes about five years. 9,000 hours are required before you complete your apprenticeship and those involved are usually paid around $15-20/hr. You also need a good understanding of math and mechanical abilities. You also need to understand how to read technical drawings and building plans.
Women are also becoming more involved in the trades thereby welcoming in more students and allowing for the stigma around trades to finally dispel given that it’s no longer a boy’s club. Due to a lack of skilled tradespeople (retirement and competition are usually to blame), the trades industry is going through a bit of a recession. But by opening the door for women to get involved, the industry is pitching trades as a first choice for young women.
It doesn’t take much to look into the trades careers and understand just how much dedication and education is required in order to make a difference.