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HOT TOPIC The US Needs More Tradespeople

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Andy Black

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Someone mentioned it already. Many tradesmen work for a company for a bit, pick up nixers on the side, then eventually get a van, tools and work for themselves.

Their work by its very nature often means meeting (and learning to deal) with clients. They are project managers in the very real sense of having to deliver XYZ by ABC date.

They’re naturally closer to being entrepreneurs than someone stuck in a office far removed from clients.

I like dealing with tradesmen. I like having tradesmen as clients too. I’ve an affinity with people who have a skill and are trying to use that skill to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
 

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scott wisniewsk

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I have 29 years in the trades , and have my own company . Too much college pushed on kids today , its not for everyone. There is a great satisfaction for doing you job and looking at it when your done . Many people also praise me for my work .I not being egotistical, but don't we all like to be recognized for our work.
 
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I have 29 years in the trades , and have my own company . Too much college pushed on kids today , its not for everyone. There is a great satisfaction for doing you job and looking at it when your done . Many people also praise me for my work .I not being egotistical, but don't we all like to be recognized for our work.
Years ago me and another IT techie sent ourselves on a general building skills course.

There were lots of young lads in the building who were pretty damn good. They ignored us old feckers. We didn’t care. We laughed so hard at our poor efforts trying to lay bricks. My god but it looked straight till we looked along another dimension and could see it was leaning badly and only a few layers high.

We did a bit of plastering and got a lot on the floor, and a bit of pebble dashing and got all of it on the floor.

I later bought a house that I renovated in the evening. I took down some lathe-and-plaster walls, put up plaster board, taped it up, and my mate came round to help me plaster it.

Maaan, it was probably the worst plastered wall in the UK that year. I spent days sanding it down, never mind chiseling the lumps off the floor (no-one told us to clean the lumps off the floor before they dried... probably because no-one else left lumps on the floor).

My mate has sadly passed away, but I remember fondly how we stood back with our cups of tea and looked at this wet wall we’d butchered. “We did that!” we laughed... like a couple of grinning idiots.

There certainly was more satisfaction than keeping database systems running that week.
 

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A lot of discussion here .... now, how do we help fix it?

I talk at middle schools. Kids, especially in white collar neighborhoods DON'T EVEN KNOW THESE JOBS EXIST. No one in the family is a welder. No one does plumbing.

I took cub scouts to a machine shop tour. Several asked their Dads why they hadn't told them about this. The Dads said 'they didn't know'.

There are a LOT of kids that don't need or (more importantly) WANT to go to college. Talk to kids. Let them know about other options! Go to career days and show them cool things they can do with their hands.

AND .... when you are talking to a welder / pipe fitter / etc., REALLY press upon them that it is their DUTY to pass this on. They need to take on kids and show them how to do this. .... sure, they are lazy millenials that just want to txt on their phone. blah, blah, blah ...... it is your DUTY to pass on what you learned.

None of this matters if we do not do something about it!!!
Challenge .... show 1 kid this week that college is not the ONLY path.
Challenge .... ask one tradesperson who they are teaching the trade.
 
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A lot of discussion here .... now, how do we help fix it?

I talk at middle schools. Kids, especially in white collar neighborhoods DON'T EVEN KNOW THESE JOBS EXIST. No one in the family is a welder. No one does plumbing.

I took cub scouts to a machine shop tour. Several asked their Dads why they hadn't told them about this. The Dads said 'they didn't know'.

There are a LOT of kids that don't need or (more importantly) WANT to go to college. Talk to kids. Let them know about other options! Go to career days and show them cool things they can do with their hands.

AND .... when you are talking to a welder / pipe fitter / etc., REALLY press upon them that it is their DUTY to pass this on. They need to take on kids and show them how to do this. .... sure, they are lazy millenials that just want to txt on their phone. blah, blah, blah ...... it is your DUTY to pass on what you learned.

None of this matters if we do not do something about it!!!
Challenge .... show 1 kid this week that college is not the ONLY path.
Challenge .... ask one tradesperson who they are teaching the trade.
When I’m ready, I want to help local youngsters help local businesses with their digital marketing. Maybe even present into schools and colleges. So far I’m doing it small scale by helping nieces and nephews - the same ones I helped pass their Maths exams to get into college, and who are now graduating and wondering what all the fuss was about.

It would be nice to catch them earlier.
 

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There is a great satisfaction for doing you job and looking at it when your done . Many people also praise me for my work .I not being egotistical, but don't we all like to be recognized for our work.
+1 for the feedback loop!
 

Michael Moore

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Any tradesmen here? What do you see on the ground?

I am based in Ireland as a fitter welder and was offered $60 an hour to travel to California only a few months ago......cash
They were looking for laborers for $30 an hour to carry a few tools and bits....
 

Michael Moore

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I'm not a tradesperson, but my business supplies tradespeople solely. I interact with tradespeople on a daily basis, have my warehouse is an industrial district, eat at the same restaurants, and hang out with a lot of them.

Trades are extremely underrated.

I have clients that are hiring ENTRY LEVEL construction workers at $30 an hour for very physically light work. The requirements: show up to work, be dependable, and be able to carry 70lbs at a time for a few minutes a day.

$30 an hour is $60k a year on 40 hour work weeks.

You can't get that working most office jobs right out of school.

I have friends that work downtown Chicago, on salary, pushing 50 hours a week for $35k. And why? Because of pride. They're too proud to get a trade job instead, though I don't blame them for it.

My generation: we've been taught that blue collar jobs are below us. Movies, tv shows, schools, the media... Unless you worked a job in an office, you were made fun of. We were taught that college and university is the only way to have a good life. Then, once someone gets that degree and realizes there's no jobs, they're too proud to take a trade job. It's a sunk cost fallacy of sorts.

Most people don't consider trucking a trade job, but it falls into a similar category of people. Do you know how much I have to pay my trucker in Chicago? $50 an hour part time. Minimum $70k a year full-time if I want someone dependable. And that's not over the road or anything complicated - just get in the truck and drive on the big streets from point A to point B and be home after 5.

You really want to know the fastlane opportunities for trade jobs?


Here you go.

Pick an industry. Pick a business you're interested in. Inquire to buy the business. Sign an NDA. Learn exactly how much money there is in the trades. How much people are paid. How much profit is made. It's eye opening to see the economics of a trade business.

Everyone here wants to do e-commerce and buy an online business. In my opinion it's 10x harder making money that way than something boring and old. The multiples for a trade business are a bit higher, maybe 3.5x for good businesses, but the money is also a lot less risky. You can acquire businesses with SBA loans, don't have to worry about "Amazon" shutting you down. Don't have to worry about competition past a few that compete directly against you. It's a lot more stable and easier than most businesses. However, to run a trade business, you have to put your ego aside and accept that your work environment will be blue collar, the area you drive to everyday won't be downtown, the restaurants you'll go to lunch for won't be much fancier than Chipotle. I think that's a fair trade.

@ZCP - Care to chime in? I know you tell a number of the kids you mentor to consider becoming tradesmen.
Honestly I am based over here in Ireland and know that there is an extreme shortage of just helpers to work for trades people never mind the shortage of actual trades people.
Look up big city union rates.
If you are a snowflake then move on quickly , I sincerely mean this .
Yes it is a macho world but it pays really well has loads of opportunities to dive in to a multiple of different busines arenas , where else can you start from the groundwork of a building site and become President of the US of A......
 

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Michael Moore

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My understanding was over in the UK they had a system that addressed this where toward the latter end of high school you were essentially slotted either university or pushed into learning a trade as opposed to taking 4 years to find yourself and accumulate $50,000 in debt while doing it...anybody have any knowledge on this or was I misinformed? I could be way off and oversimplifying.

Anyway, even 2 years after the article was written I’m sure things haven’t changed, if anything, probably gotten worse. I suspect there is more money in underwriting trillions worth of student loans than the income tax these potential workers would pay, hence why our government will never seriously address nor openly support it.
In Germany they do that from high school by regular testing and progressive learning to see if the shoe fits as it were....There is a major shortage of trades people in the UK and its getting far worse.Their socialist system is breaking down badly.....
 

Michael Moore

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My dad got into bus driving a few years ago. Got his CDL. Started part-time. What I didn't know was that bus drivers start off with higher pay than most of the corporate jobs in the area.

A few years later he became the Assistant Bus Director and now holds a position as Bus Director at the biggest area school. He earns over $60k and recently applied for a position with another school paying over $100k.

Nobody wants to drive a school bus. It's hard to find and retain talent. A lot of crack heads apply and get jobs because there's nobody else who wants to do it.

From a Fastlane perspective, there's tons of opportunities with bus driving. Ride-sharing services, automated bus concepts, better monitoring systems to watch kids, better check-in / check-out systems so parents know if their kids got on the bus and made it to school.

On the part about liberal arts degrees, I disagree that they are worthless. Most people don't understand how to leverage their degree or don't want to. They get a B.A. or an M.A. and apply for higher paying jobs. They don't use their B.A. to build credibility or authority and sell high-end products or services etc.

A degree isn't essential to "make it" but there are ways to leverage it into Fastlane opportunities. There are many positions that aren't open to people who don't have the appropriate level of education. You can't just be a psychologist and start treating patients. You need a Doctorate's degree and licenses in most places. That's a high barrier to entry.

In my opinion it isn't a battle of fancy degree vs. trade. It's a matter of perspective and having the vision to see opportunities around you whatever way you go
Didnt someone on this here site do something with a Limo business or some such like??? lol
 

Michael Moore

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Another topic I thought to address is this idea that "mexicans migrants" are doing all of our manual labor now. I would say that this is somewhat TRUE. However where I live 99% of them are doing unskilled labor. Roofing, Drywall, Carpet, Landscaping, Carpentry and other similar types of labor.

Anything that requires an apprenticeship or some sort of higher advanced trade school, I have never seen them do.
Unbelievabley , Roofing , Carpet laying , drywall and Landscaping etc are all trades and tough to do , but those guys get minimum wage because they are used and abused as they have no other choice as they have families there and at home to look after , their bosses are charging top rates for them I assure you , the cannot do trade school due to their circumstance , BTW at home for them is far worse , I have worked "abroad" to feed my family cleaned crap and shoveled shite to earn a living.
 

Michael Moore

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Ok a bit of a rant coming on here
As a tradesperson I have seen nothing for discontent for myself and my trades comrades , oh I used that word.....lol
We are considered dirty , unwashed , thieves , over priced etc etc.
All down to a total mis-understanding of what we do.
Our jobs are dirty.
Yes we sweat a lot , inside and outside , our work is hard , we fit your air con but dont get to avail of it.
We will sell your unwanted rubbish if we can , "one mans rubbish is another mans income".
We are expensive as what you want done takes years of hard work and training to get right , also if you didnt change your mind half way through the job it would not need doing twice.
More to follow soon.
If any one wants advice getting into the trades drop me a line.
If any one wwants to know how to make money off trades people supply their gear a little less than anyone else , we all have cash to buy tools , clothing , etc etc and even advice on how to get more clients including advertising , copyright laws , copywriting for our advertising , web page design and advice , FB ads , supply chain management etc etc.
 

Deleted52409

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All manual labor isn't "unskilled."
This is the blindspot.
Leaf blowing is unskilled.
Tree branch cutting is skilled.
Carpentry is highly, highly skilled. And roofing.
Try calculating the amount of lumber, and the cut lengths, that you'd need to build a saltbox room addition over a garage.
No architect is needed because you're the carpenter.
Try calculating the amount of shields you need for the electronics on your fishing fleet and their exact location.' Then go buy it and install it.
That's manual labor.
I am defining "skilled" as HIGHER BARRIER OF ENTRY (licensing, certifications/trade school, etc.) . What proper term do you prefer I use to define trades that can be learned by watching youtube videos in comparison to trades that require a 4 year apprenticeship plus night classes?

It's not totally black and white so I understand your point. But residential roofing is in a completely different category from underwater welding.
 
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I'm surprised trades are looked down on in the USA, its not here in Australia, certainly not where I'm from anyway. I was a plumber/gas fitter for 15 years, as @Andy Black mentioned, most guys would buy a van and be "self employed" however it isn't Fastlane, working 10 hour days, coming home and doing invoicing for 2-3 hours a night. Most guys I know that went down that path worked harder and in some cases for less money, as a full time wage is good money in construction.

But there's other opportunities in construction, from a tech side, heres a couple of articles I've found (sorry if they're hidden by paywalls)

Next Big Aussie Construction Tech Company?

Main investor in that is a former chairman of Aconex;

Aconex acquired by Oracle for 1.5b

Man hours, supplies, transport, safety, tech services, product evolution particularly toward energy saving and safety focused applications .... Constructions a massive industry with opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs.
 

MoreValue

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Looked into trades, but kept reading how people’s bodies were wrecked after years of doing it.

I only got one body. Trades you use your body mainly for work. Office jobs, you use you mind. Although, you can wreck your body by being too sedentary as well.

Makes more sense financially, paid to learn apprenticeship.
 

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This is so true. The kids all want to graduate from college and get a job as a "manager" which they assume is a high paying wonderful thing. But actually they're mostly unemployable because they graduate with no usable skills. Meanwhile the average plumber in the US is over 60. I have a younger friend who is a plumber and he is making more money than anyone else his age I know.
 

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Maybe this is just a local thing, but in my circle we tend to respect a tradesperson by default. I guess there is just an assumption that they are productive, and contributing to quality of life, so we like them automatically.
 

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Bertram

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Tradespeople have a decided advantage over the highly "educated". Welders, pipefitters, carpenters, etc can always find employment and have skills that lend themselves to entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, many of those folks don't realize their potential and stay in dead-end hourly-wage jobs.

A PhD in ancient architecture gets you what? A job teaching ancient architecture? Like MJ, I'm not saying all higher education is a waste. BUT it is not THE answer. When combined with real world experience and the right mindset, it can be very powerful. It's all up to us.

What we do with what we learn and experience in life dictates our futures.
I am defining "skilled" as HIGHER BARRIER OF ENTRY (licensing, certifications/trade school, etc.) . What proper term do you prefer I use to define trades that can be learned by watching youtube videos in comparison to trades that require a 4 year apprenticeship plus night classes?
The barriers to skilled manual labor jobs are transportation and willingness, not education.

Unemployed 18-21 yr olds in rural states have turned to drugs because their home state is focused on schools and padding human services instead of job recruitment and public transportation and road networks.


IMO YouTube does not get you very far past DIY experience to save the cost of paying someone else for using her or his knowledge.
 
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Roughneck

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Skilled Trades are viewed as some of the best jobs out there in Australia!
I did plumbing as a trade but wished I did electrical. I am now in Oil & Gas and a mate works offshore as a E&I Tech, 'Norwegian Foster's (3on /3off /3on /6off) and over 200k a year. Yes, still scripted but that's good money!
 

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Maybe this is just a local thing, but in my circle we tend to respect a tradesperson by default.
It completely depends upon your social circle. In mine (overly educated professionals), the trades are looked down upon.

Maybe that's too strong. Maybe they are just unknown.

I will say that the numbers being thrown around here are very enlightening and eye-opening for me.

I've never put much thought into it, but if you had asked me how much an elevator repair person makes (for example), I would have guessed maybe slightly more than a gas station attendant.

I'm not trying to be offensive. But I'm also not joking.

This might be why many people are pushing their kids into college whether it is a good fit for them or not.

Many people have absolutely no idea what economic opportunity the trades offer and see college as the only way their kids can avoid working at minimum wage jobs.
 

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Legit right. Some of those jobs are $20-25 or more and hour and that's only Class B drivers.

CDL-A drivers, think I read there are 30,000 of those jobs open. I'm in the arena of trucks and "blue collar". You need some steady income and are honest...go get a CDL and care about what you do. There are some nice opportunities while working toward fastlane.

PS - Hi Ma'

(Humor, not smart a**...we love our Moms!)
While I respect the tradesman I also feel those jobs are peeking and the high salaries are a result of young people not wanting those jobs and going into the tech sector. Soon a lot of these trades jobs will be done by technology and robots. Those good paying jobs like truck driver and mechanic will go away.

If you want to be a tradesman nothing wrong with that I just suggest to jump on it now and start stacking the money before the AI's and Robots take over.
 
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Yes its scary out there! I own a steel fabrication company and have never seen such a shortage of skilled workers. Its pretty much the topic of conversation between other business owners in every trade.
I am also seeing this on ground level. I own real estate that requires renovations, can't find anyone reliable.
My father has been in construction, GC, estimating, restoration construction, etc and he lives in a major city. Said most trade workers last 2 weeks or less and then ghost the boss at first paycheck.

Huge opportunity if you value work ethic to get in and make quality money with no college debt. As far as leveraging into fastlane, not 100% sure. I do know that in real estate investing, finding tradies that do QUALITY work is very difficult, so maybe excellence of execution could be your differentiator...
 

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Great post Andy, definitely agree. I'd much rather have a vocational degree in welding or mold making than a liberal arts degree in philosophy.

Could be some Fastlanes hiding in those trades as well.
If I could go back in time, I would probably have either become a general contractor or gone into a specialty trade. Definitely fastlane options. You never realize how worthless a law or accounting degree is until you end up hiring and firing them.
 

MHP368

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In terms of how people look down on trade positions, it's bad. I jokingly told my mom I saw a position at the waste management company that I was thinking of applying for. She nearly lost her mind.
My cousin got a biomedical engineering degree and never used it , became a garbage truck driver. He's in Illinois though so the pension weighed into it I think.
 

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@MHP368 I attended the BMES conference (biomedical engineering) when it was in Tampa, and there were a lot of graduates there complaining that they couldn't get jobs.
 

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