Engaging Our Youth In The Trades

By Phil Benevides on Contractor Advice, Remodeling, Tools PLUS!

Engaging our youth in the Trades – Changing our Perceptions


A College Education

Source: amienvironmental.com

Source: amienvironmental.com

As a parent, I want what’s best for my children, and for the past twenty years a college education has been touted as the way to ensure a well paying job and good quality of life.

In 2012 college graduates over age 25 earned 25% more than the median average wage worker according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Naturally as a father of three, I would use the logic that college means my child will make a decent living and not break their backs doing it, therefore that’s best for them, so I’ll do whatever is required to get them to a college or university.

But in the past TEN years, we’ve been reminded time and time again that college does not ensure employment, let alone a job that pays well. According to the BLS, 72.6% of recent college grads were employed and over a quarter-million Americans with a Bachelor degree or higher are working in jobs paying minimum wage.

The overwhelming cost of college has left our children with more debt then they are ready to handle. Since 1988 college tuition and fees have more than doubled in 2011, cited in a CNN money story highlighting inequality in America. And the college and university system has been criticized for their inability to prepare our children for a complicated and obstacle filled “real world.”

A Trade Education

Source: waynecc.edu

Source: waynecc.edu

So why is it that we as a society continue to herd our children into a system that we know is expensive, unproductive, and doesn’t guarantee a good, stable job anymore?

Well, I believe we are to blame.

Our perceptions of manual labor, blue-collar jobs, and trade schools have become toxic in our society. Why aren’t we engaging our youth in the trades?

The expectation that EVERYONE in each subsequent future generation should go to college is just silly.

Equally as silly is the idea that all laborers or blue collar workers are not intelligent or successful.

Two of my newest employees are college educated, obviously they were intelligent enough to complete the requirement for their degrees, and possibly could continue to pursue and obtain advanced degrees. Instead they choose to enter careers in the trades, where with their hard work and motivation they will no doubt be successful.

Do what you Love

Source: rainfordrestorations.wordpress.com

Source: rainfordrestorations.wordpress.com

Another thing my two new crew members have in common is that they left their previous jobs to find a more satisfying career that “makes them happy”.

This concept that working in the trades brings a greater sense of fulfillment to employees is not an unique idea shared by A Concord Carpenter’s employees, but many trade men and women cite this reason for their choice in careers.

The North Bennett Street School, America’s oldest trade school incorporated in 1885 uses the tag line “Do what you love” to entice students to pursue a career in the trades.

Before we drop our kids off in their freshman dorm room, did we ever once ask ourselves; will college make our kids happy? Furthermore, did we ever wonder that maybe because it makes US happy to say “John is at State” or “Mary is a Pre-Med major?” that we continue to convince ourselves that college is what’s best for our youth.

Changing our Perceptions

Changing our society’s perceptions of the trades and encouraging our youth to consider a career in the trades is an important step in the success of our nation.

We rely on our trades men and women to build and maintain our homes, keep them warm and dry, fill our houses with furniture, fix and maintain our cars, and build our roads and bridges. The list goes on and on.

Let’s take pride in our careers, demand that respect from our society, and share with our children the satisfaction and a good paycheck in a career in the trades!



  • http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
  • http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/how-bad-is-the-job-market-for-college-grads-your-definitive-guide/274580/
  • http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/13/news/economy/college_tuition_middle_class/index.htm
  • http://www.nbss.edu
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About the author

Phil Benevides

Carpenter / Assistant Editor

Phil is a 28-year old Air Force Veteran who decided to transform his passion for construction and home improvement into a career. Inspired by his Grandfather who built his home from the ground up with his bare hands in Portugal, he received his formal training in Carpentry at the North Bennett Street School in Boston, MA.Phil continues to grow his skills as a carpenter and leader, while exploring new products, methods, and tools!

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