Time to “skill up” and rebrand the Trades vs. College

skilled trades

Big topic of discussion these days with friends who have kids graduating from college: how to be supportive but at the same time make it clear to their kids that they need to get serious about a job search. A friend who lives by NYU mentioned to me recently that whenever he sees groups of students, dollar signs flash before his eyes, a group of 5 is equivalent to $1Million (i.e. $200,000 per kid in education cost).

And yet, if I bring up skilled trades or some other non-college career path, everyone is aghast. Perhaps because I am European and all the men in my family were skilled tradespeople, I see the trades as a desirable profession and a great way to build a business.

In NYC, trying to get a plumber or an electrician is more difficult than finding a doctor or a lawyer.  My plumber, for example, charges $150 for a 15 minute job which works out to be $600 an hour or about $1MM annually. Not bad in my book. And he’s young and he’s cool and he’s got a skill that will be forever in demand.

As a country, it would be in our best interest to rebrand the skilled trades so that more kids and their families see the trades as hands-on-intelligence as well as a creative outlet for skilled craftspeople and artisans.

See below for some interesting background and sources for skilled trades and apprenticeship programs.

Reinventing the apprenticeship: looking at new learning models for craftspeople with Aaron Barton

Opinion: Time to 'skill up,' rethink dated training approach



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