The Skilled Trades – More Than a Worthy Career Choice

Posted on
by Coach Rob Balfanz

It's no secret that the construction industry and the skilled trades need more people to join their ranks. As business owners and industry professionals, I am sure most of us would agree that the current labor shortage is the number one issue affecting the industry. It is only going to become more challenging if we do not come together.

As individuals or individual organizations, growing the workforce may seem like a very heavy lift that’s not achievable. However, what if we all joined together as one industry, and started working together on the real issues?

Have you thought about what we can do together, to attract the next generation of skilled trades professionals?

In my opinion, a lot of what needs to be changed is the perception of the construction industry. We must show young people that the industry isn't the way everyone thinks it is or the way they think it used to be. We must tell young people what we want them to hear, show them what we want them to see and then follow up with a clear path on how to get there. If we can paint a clear picture of how much they can earn while they learn on that pathway, that would be icing on the cake.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Edward Everett Hale

Recently, I was on an industry webinar, and I heard something that made my heart stop. Our industry was referred to as being associated with the dreaded “4 D’s”: Dirty, Difficult, Dangerous and Dead-end.

When I heard this, my stomach hit the floor, my mind went into defensive mode, and I asked myself, is this what young people still think of the skilled trades?

I am a pretty positive person, so I stopped the negative thoughts and automatically went into a positive mode, knowing that my attitude at that moment could be contagious. So, I refocused the group’s attention on the other “4 D’s”:

  1. Desirable – The skilled trades are desirable to those who want to live on their own terms, want a flexible lifestyle, enjoy working with their hands, want to learn new technology, want to work with people of all walks of life, want to learn while they earn and can make an impact almost immediately.
  2. Dependable – The skilled trades are dependable and will reward an individual and/or a family consistently for many, many years. For construction and extraction, 758,400 new jobs are projected by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  3. Dynamic – The skilled trades are as dynamic a career as any. The trades are full of change, endless activity and constant progress. A person working in the skilled trades will come to work in the morning and, by the end of the day, they will see immediate and fulfilling progress. Sure, some days are tougher than others, but for the most part, winning or learning happens every day.
  4. Disciplined – There’s no arguing that skilled trades can be difficult. However, the skilled trades will also educate a person on being disciplined, which will take them far in business and life.

“Work gives you meaning, and purpose and life is empty without it.” – Stephen Hawking

Why do most people get up each day?

The simple answer is meaning. Most people want to live a meaningful life that is both fulfilling and rewarding.

The skilled trades can offer meaning and fulfill a passion for anyone interested and willing to work for it. Progress is made every day in the trades.

Find your PATH in the Trades:

  • Passion – Are you passionate about construction, building things, and making progress each day?
  • Attitude – As stated above, attitude is contagious and whenever I meet someone with a positive attitude, I always say that I want some of what they’ve got! As I coach my players, life is about 10% what happens to you and about 90% how you react to it.
  • Trust – In this business, trust is critical, and trusting the process is extremely important.
  • Happiness – To me, there is something very rewarding about building things, remodeling things, restoring things and working with my hands. There is an immediate sense of accomplishment and a feeling of satisfaction. In the skilled trades, you will be able to do this and more. You will learn, you can advance and you will grow as a person. When the time is right for you, you can decide if you want to stay as an employee or become an entrepreneur; the choice is yours!

Through the VSI’s Career Pathway Program, you can go from installer trainee to installation technician, to certified installer, to lead installer, to owner-operator, and build the life you want.

The skilled trades are more than a worthy career choice, the skilled trades are a lifestyle – a lifestyle worth living.

"Life is a journey, not a destination." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Want to get more involved or learn more about building the life you want? Click here!

Until then,

Be Resilient – Add Value – Stay Healthy - Trust the Process!

To your success,

“Coach” Rob Balfanz

Director, Workforce Development