I read with interest the article “Mind the Gap” regarding the current state of unemployment and the available jobs in our county [“Mind the Gap: WNC Has More Job Openings Than Unemployed Workers. Why?” Feb. 24, Xpress]. I was extremely surprised to read the article and see no mention of the extreme dearth of workers in the construction trades. One need only drive in any direction in our county, and they will see numerous construction projects underway.
As a small-business owner in the landscape construction industry, we deal with many different trades on our job sites, from carpenters to electricians to plumbers to paving contractors to fencing contractors, etc., etc., and every single business owner I talk to says they can’t find enough help.
Your article states that the highest jump in unemployment is in the group with no college degree — most of these trades do not require a college degree. They do, however, require someone to be willing to work hard and be exposed to inclement weather and long hours. And there is no such thing as “remote work.” But I think many in our community are overlooking a segment of our economy that can provide a very good and stable income for someone who may not be college material or is unwilling to be saddled with $50,000-plus student debt to obtain a degree.
A-B Tech and all of the other technical colleges offer very affordable certification programs, and many companies are willing to train in-house. I can’t help but wonder if our younger generation has been largely brainwashed to think that every person who gets a college degree will land a $100,000/year desk job and won’t have to work very hard for it. This mindset has done a disservice to those folks who still cling to this pipe dream.
Most plumbers and electricians are billing around $100/hour, and other contractors are not far behind that, so the potential income in the trade industry can far surpass the $68,000 average salary Pratt & Whitney will be offering, plus you get to travel to different job sites almost every day and discover new places in this beautiful area we call home. I would take that any day over being stuck in a windowless warehouse.
Sure, sometimes the work is backbreaking and miserable, but at least you can go to sleep every night knowing you did honest work, and you actually have something tangible to show for it, which is pretty satisfying in my book. It seems like some folks need to be reminded of the old adage, “You don’t always get what you wish for, but you get what you work for.”
— Lisa Myers