Why Are There So Few Young People in...

Why Are There So Few Young People in the Trades, and How Can We Fix This?

by Meghan Brown
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

The trades, like many other fields of employment, expect to see a large number of workers leaving the workforce in the next ten to fifteen years as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age.  However, currently there is a lack of young tradespeople in the workforce available to step forward and fill this gap.  It’s imperative that more young people get into the trades, but why are there so few to begin with?

Unpleasant Myths About the Trades

Unfortunately, there are some unpleasant myths about trades careers that are hard to dispel, such as the idea that working in the trades means being poorly paid, working unskilled labour, and enduring dirty or unsafe working conditions. These misconceptions are often reinforced by movies and television, leading many young people to decide they don’t want to work in the trades.

How can we correct these misconceptions?

While there’s no easy way, spreading positive information about the trades is the best way to show young people what a trades career is truly like.  None of those unpleasant myths are true of modern trades.  Tradespeople are highly skilled and highly trained professionals who are vital to every industry, from manufacturing and construction to childcare, hairdressers, and culinary experts.  Many tradespeople possess a combination of college education and on-the-job apprenticeship training, which gives them both a strong knowledge base and expertise in hands-on skills.

Trades careers are also very well paid, often with average salaries higher than the national average for all employment.  Some trades careers can earn more than $80,000 per year, though it will depend on how many years of experience the tradesperson has and in which part of the country they are employed.  Modern trades also operate under strict workplace regulations for employment, and health and safety, subject to regular inspections by certification bodies and governmental organizations.

Young People Don’t Know What Trades Are Out There

Many young people simply aren’t aware of how many trades careers there are, or what these trades involve, and end up overlooking the opportunities offered by skilled trades.  Though well-intentioned, many elementary and secondary schools put the greatest emphasis on encouraging students to attend college or university to earn three and four year bachelor’s degrees.  While there’s nothing wrong with this, the result of often that schools miss out on presenting detailed information about trades careers to students at the same time.  This means that many students who are trying to decide what to do after high school may not realize how many opportunities exist in the trades.

How can you learn about working in the trades?

Learn the truth about the trades from another tradesperson.  If you know someone who works in a trade, such as a parent, family member, or friend, you can take some time to ask them about their work to learn what their trade involves.  Ask about the workplace, health and safety, what kind of skills they use on a day-to-day basis, and what the future of their career path looks like.  This is the best way to learn the truth about working in the trades, to help you decide if a trades career is right for you.

No matter what you’re interested in, somewhere in the long list of skilled trades will be a trades career that is the perfect fit.






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