Engaging Young Minds in the Trades
Inspiring Young Builders
As a father of two young children I often wonder where life’s path will take them when they fall into a career some day. I also think back to my own childhood and remember watching my dad (a carpenter) work countless hours trying to make ends meet. He would constantly instill in me that I needed to go away to college one day so I didn’t need to pound nails for a living. It’s really the same story that’s been told for generations, parents inspiring their children to have a better job and life than they did.
This cycle of each generation wanting to do “better” has forced our Country and Society for that matter into an interesting situation. Each year more and more young people drive off to college hoping to get a great career behind a desk and avoid the hard labor associated with physical jobs like construction and manufacturing. Unfortunately that has left a vacuum with fewer and fewer talented young men and women seeking jobs in construction and manufacturing.
While the solution to this problem is not an easy one I think there are things we can do to stop the downfall of construction and manufacturing in our Country. First let me be clear, I’m not suggesting that we stop sending our young people to college. However, I am suggesting that we stop creating a stigma around certain careers that are centered on a technical education like construction and manufacturing jobs. We need to promote those careers so that they are also seen as respectable careers.
Below is a quick video from an interview I did recently with the folks from the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA).
How You Can Help
If you feel like I do and want to help turn around things in our industry then there are easy ways of helping. First we need more companies and associations to produce content like the video you just watched. Our industry needs to highlight and celebrate companies that are manufacturing their products here in the US. Companies like Channellock and Delta Machinery for example.
You can also volunteer your time on industrial advisory boards. I happen to sit on two such boards here in my community. I serve on one at the University of New Hampshire where I went to college and I also serve on one here in town at the local Vocational School. In both capacities I’m able to help mentor students and share my experiences as an end user of the students that attend both types of education.
You can also offer to give a short presentation to students in a local high school. You can share with them some of the opportunities that exist for both students that attend college and those that attend a technical school. The idea is to give our students options and show them that either track is one that offers a good career path.
Start At Home
If you’re a parent like myself then you and I both need to start this process at home. Sure I would love for both of my children to go on to get a college education. But I’ve finally come to realize that if they decide to follow a career path that’s more technical then I’ll support that decision. Because I know that there are great careers they can have regardless of the path they choose.
Finally, share with your kids, the neighbors kids, the joys and pride that come from building things. Get them involved in your shop or take them to a jobsite for a quick visit.
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