School’s back in – whether in-person, virtually or as a hybrid model – and we at Grade Tech have a message for high schooler and middle schooler students: when considering a career, don’t forget to explore the trades. With pressure from high school counselors and parents to get a college degree, many students never explore the benefits of a blue collar career. We’re here to tell you to do your homework, so to speak, and explore ALL of your options. There are many paths to take, and many people go the college route. But college isn’t for everyone and it’s not the only path to a successful, well-paying career. So if the idea of sitting behind a desk all day doesn’t appeal to you, make sure to look into all of the options available in the trades. After all, there is no need to squeeze yourself into something that doesn’t fit when there are so many other paths to success that could fit you like a glove.

FACT:   Workers in Blue Collar Jobs are in High Demand

There is a labor shortage in the United States, and much of that shortage is in the blue collar sector. Many construction companies, trucking companies and other trades have more work than workers. As older workers retire and younger workers flock toward the office or white collar world, businesses continue to struggle to find people to fill essential jobs. That means that companies are competing for skilled workers and paying more to get the personnel they need. While some employers require formal training or trade school – which takes less time and is less costly than college – many are willing to train “on-the-job.”

Conversely, many college graduates are finding it more and more difficult to find good-paying jobs. Simply put, the market is over saturated – there are hundreds, even thousands, of college graduates competing for the same jobs – and there aren’t enough good-paying jobs to go around. Many graduates are saddled with crippling debt and are forced to take low-paying jobs, many times not even in their field of study.

FACT: “Blue Collar” is Not a Dirty Word

Blue collar workers have been, are now and will always be the backbone of this country. No matter how technologically advanced we become or what new computer or phone is coming out next, there will always be a need for the trades. Whether they’re building America’s power infrastructure – like Grade Tech – building homes and offices, installing or repairing electricity or plumbing, paving roads or moving cargo across country in an 18-wheeler, tradesmen and women are essential to our way of life.

Yet, the term “blue collar” seems to come with a stigma. Many parents and counselors seem to steer kids away from the trades, not wanting “their children” to do the hard and dirty work. What they don’t realize is that men and women alike can find well-paying, fulfilling jobs in the trades – jobs that require them to use their minds as well as their hands.

FACT: A College Degree isn’t for Everyone and You Don’t Need One To Be Successful

Although the majority of high school students are being pushed onto the “4-year college” path, many don’t find their calling in college. In fact, according to an article by National Public Radio, approximately 60% of college students will not have a degree after six years, but are saddled with college debt with seemingly no way to pay it off.

Further, as stated earlier in this article, a college degree no longer guarantees a professional, secure or well-paying job.

FACT: Trade Workers are Happy Workers

According to a Harris Poll conducted for Express Employment Professionals (The Harris Poll), 86% of blue-collar workers are satisfied with their jobs. Furthermore, 91% of trade workers are proud of the work they do and 80% say their jobs provide a good living. Finally, approximately three quarters of those surveyed said that they see a good career path in their line of work.

Looking Forward

In order to address the needs of local businesses, a number of high schools across the nation have started to invest in training schools at which students are taught skills used in the trades. It is a small step in the right direction that we hope will grow exponentially.

The bottom line is, the trades need an influx of skilled workers and can offer a lot of benefits and opportunities for students coming out of high school, and even for older individuals looking to change careers. There is no harm – or shame – in exploring careers that don’t require college degrees. Give the trades a chance – you just might find the right place for you!