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Skilled Trades Stigma
By Mike Holmes
Monday, May 10th, 2021 @ 10:01am
I say it a lot, but to me, my dad really was Superman. I thought he was a contractor who could do it all. All I wanted to do, was be like him. So I was following him around on his job sites practically from birth!
I knew that I was going to be a contractor like him one day – and by 19 I was already running my own crew. Construction is in my blood, and I’m proud to say that two of my kids have followed in my footsteps on to the job site.
You’d think that being Mike Holmes, it would have been an easy sell to get my kids to work with me – but it really wasn’t! Michael and Sherry both originally had other plans until they stepped on to the job site to help out on some jobs, and fell in love with it.
Now I see them working to encourage the next generation of youth to join us in the trades. It’s a valid effort, but we’re still not seeing the same level of passion and support for the industry among young people that we want.
We’ve worked hard to push for more support in the skilled trades, that’s why we partner with organizations like Skills Canada and Skills USA which helps celebrate our tradespeople and set young people up for success with their chosen careers for life.
On our job sites, we’ve pushed for greater diversity on our crew, and are even bringing in new tradespeople to work as apprentices. It’s on all of us who are currently in the trades to help create space for the next generation of tradespeople to take up the mantel.
Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard to break down the stigma against the skilled trades to help encourage more people to join us on the work site. It’s our hope that by doing this, we can help spread the word that trades are a valuable, necessary, and lucrative career.
What’s the Stigma?
There’s this idea about the trades that they’re a fallback career, or something you do if you’re not able to go to college. That could not be further from the truth.
It’s important to remember that while the trades offer an incredible career path – they are also a lot of work. It takes a lot of technical skill and knowhow to be able to build things (or style hair, bake, or fix cars) – it’s not something you’ll learn on a whim.
The trades require a set of essential skills that we use every day. Math skills, communications skills, it’s a lot more than simply swinging a hammer.
Not everybody learns the same way. Some people work best in a classroom, others prefer to get hands on experience – neither is better than the other, but we’ve noticed that schools tend to push the idea of post-secondary education to their students over everything. But a life in the trades is a valuable education as well.
How To Change Minds
If we’re only talking to high school aged students about the trades, we’re starting too late. I think we should be having conversations with kids even younger to open their eyes to all kinds of careers that are available to them.
When they see the trades as a potential career in front of them, it may help them make a more informed decision about their future later in life.
One thing that parents and grandparents can do is to build something with their kids. Make it a small DIY project like a birdhouse, and let them help out. It will help create some good memories, and it can help spark an interest in woodworking.
Supporting the Next Generation of Trades People
Of course, we can’t do this all on our own – it takes a village to support the next crop of trades people. That’s why we were so excited to work with Working Gear in Holmes Family Effect. Working Gear provides clothing, haircuts, and work boots to people who are trying to enter the workforce.
If you don’t have much, the cost of a pair of new work boots can be a serious barrier to starting your career in the trades.
Unfortunately, work boots are a popular item at the centre – and they frequently run out or don’t have enough of the proper size to fit the feet of their community members.
If you saw the episode, you can remember that our family got on the phone and started calling around to all sorts of workwear companies so we could replenish the stock at Working Gear.
It was thanks to the generous donation of one such company, Viberg Boot that we were able to provide a truck full of BRAND NEW boots to the team at Working Gear. That’s going to help bring a lot more people into the fold of our trades, and at the end of the day, that’s a great thing.