I'm a tradesman myself, specializing in tile installation. I've been in this trade for about 10 years now. And what I'm noticing as an alarming trend is this; kids these days are not interested in working in the trades, unless perhaps their parents have a company doing it (electrical, plumbing, whatever) and they've been brought along to "help out on weekends" sort of thing.
As more and more tradespeople are retiring, less and less people are filling the empty spaces left by them. What is going to happen in, say, 10 - 20 years from now? If this trend continues, it will lead to a massive shortage of skilled workers. Imagine what will happen when you have a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink, and you are told, "No problem, we can schedule in a repair person in 6 to 8 weeks. In the meantime, keep mopping up your floor. Oh, and it's going to cost you $3,200 for us to change that leaky faucet. Have a nice day"
Extreme example, I know, but really...it is getting worse and worse.
Any thoughts on this?
For sure. And this trend is being noticed as well. In Canada there is a huge push to get kids into trades again. The proliferation of trades-based shows on TV will help too.
Do you remember the days when waste pipe joints had to be wrapped with asbestos rope and caulked? And pipes were lead - with 'wiped' joints? Although UK tradesmen weren't really appreciated in those days it genuinely took years to learn the trade to even a 'DIY' skill level. Most home-owners wouldn't even contemplate trying to fix a plumbing problem themselves.
Then plastic waste pipe with solvent-weld or push-fit joints appeared. The skills required to achieve a reasonable standard dropped. Not as many skilled professionals were needed.
Now we have push-fit plastic supply systems and virtually no skills required to run a few pipes. The skill has all but gone out of the job.
I've been to jobs that other so-called pros in sign-written vans have turned down because they didn't know how to isolate a gravity-fed hot tap. I've been to jobs where the wrong float-valve was changed because the so-called pro couldn't figure out which cistern was overflowing.
I've been to jobs where I had to refit waste pipes because the plumbers who were in before me were trying to get the waste water to flow uphill!
I went to a job, today, where the kitchen ceiling was damp because the 'silicone round the shower was leaking'. Nope - the waste outlet had come undone. The lad (about 15) who was home to let me in should have been able to diagnose and fix that for himself. I could have done that at 10. I despair of the manual skills of young people these days - but now I'm sounding like my old-fart uncle!
I quietly get on with building my plumbing business, picking up more and more good will and watching the so-called pros make a pig's ear of their work. Their loss is my gain.
There is (supposedly) going to be a push to get kids into trades again in the UK. I'll lay odds on, though, that they'll not learn much about good customer service or fault-finding.
My husband and I are both in a trade. He installs alarm systems and I am a dental technician. We are both in the apprentice stage still. Even though there is a huge demand for my occupation, I am thinking about bailing already. The hours are horrible, I am expected to work for 12 hours or more, until I get the work assigned to me done and I get paid for 8. It is an incredibly stressful job as well, very high pressure and production based. You work under a microscope all day, and if you make a mistake, if your ratios are off or you polish away a margin or contact point on a crown, you get to start all over again. There are also no benefits. I am thinking of retraining for a cushy hospital job. Medical and dental, a union, breaks and I get paid for overtime. My husband doesn't get benefits either, but he loves his job, and his pay is decent. My current boss used to be a carpenter, but he was tired of never knowing when his next paycheck would come, it was either feast of famine. Right now he could be making 90 000 a year, but he knows that when the market slows down he will be out a job. My (ex) brother in law thought that a trade would be great too, but he totally got shafted with his hours, twice, and now has to live with his mom. Don't even start me on the electrician I know who was unemployed for over a year, and he is a hard working talented guy, and ended up going back to school so he wouldn't keep getting laid off everytime the housing market slowed down. Sorry to sound so negative, but I don't think that trades are the panacea that they are made out to be.
There's a decline in students studying trades-associated programs in sweden as well, mostly because people don't seem to think it's 'good' enough..
It's quite stupid really when you take a look at the wages and realize that a newly graduated tradesman will make nearly as much as a newly graduated academic, but minus 3-4 years spent studying and once they get the chance to start up their own firm they can make a bunch of money pretty fast if they're at least halfway decent entrepreneurs..
Here, trade associated programs are low profile jobs for many reasons - First being paid less though you work a lot. Secondly - you have to sweat a lot in these type of jobs and Finally - these jobs are not permanent (Unless you work for Government on Government payroll, Now a days, even government outsource on the basis of Contracts or pay on a daily baisis) and Job location is also not permanent.
Believe me, In all developing countries, People can survive a lot with just Trade experience (and without any Professional school trade study).
To be frank, such occupations are slammed with the term "blue collar" by society, so those who have a choice often do not like to venture in it. Such is the effect of ill placed pride in the modern society.
Although I'm not really worried about the lack of new repairman, at least for the next 10 years. (Because we just bought a completely new house, and before the plumbing goes bad 10 years later, I would have gone into the work force and earned enough so we'll sell it and change another one @_@ to avoid having to deal with troubles associated with old houses....No don't slap me >_<)
Anyway, back to the topic. I think another reason why young folks nowadays do not go into the trades is because it's hard work and they don't want that, but still want good pay.(I know, because I am one of those lazy kids ^^; )
But again, I am not worried about it at all. The way things go is, people leave an occupation, and once the occupation shows enormous increase in demand added onto appealing pay, people will flock to it (thus the existence of those articles about the fastest growing or the best paying jobs in the country and the such). So before you know it, you'd have too many to deal with.
I am a student and have noticed this myself. Pretty much everyone i know wants to go to university. They are mostly shocked that i want to be an electrician. They all seem to think its a waste of my talents.