Letter: Don’t overlook construction trades

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.