Income inequality is serious stuff and I don’t want to take it lightly.  With 3.5-4.0% unemployment, however, there is opportunity out there.  I’d like to share some perspective on the topic from the point of view of a service industry business owner.

Over the last 50 years, the US has slowly been ramping ‘Service Sector’ employment.  Many feel these jobs are not as good as the manufacturing jobs of the past, and part time retail and fast food employment is used as evidence of this.  Wages are low, and stagnant.

I’ll share that every trade-based service provider I know is hiring.  Plumbers, electricians, HVAC, gutter installers and just about everybody else in town is looking for help.  Many are willing to hire and train those that are willing to show up every day, apply themselves and learn.

I’m not recruiting for Mr. Handyman here, I’m making a statement to those that feel stuck and want to better their life.  Learning a trade is a career path.  Pick a trade and get good at it.  Become a journeyman, get licensed and progress as far as your ambition and enthusiasm take you.  Or, continue to work for a company that needs skilled staff. 

I saw something on the ‘Fight for $15’, where a reporter interviewed a man that had been flipping burgers at a chain fast food restaurant for 10+ years.  He was dismayed that he wasn’t making much more than minimum wage.  Maybe it is time for this gent to move on from a job done by many high school kids as their first job.  While it is certainly gainful employment, and nobody should be ashamed that they flip burgers, flipping burgers is not a career path.

The second challenge to those looking to advance is reliability.  I’ve hired more folks than I care to admit that are unreliable.  Employers can, and will, work with employees taking classes or coaching little league.  We put the day(s) they need to leave early on the schedule and work around them.  These employees often work longer other days of the week.

What an employer can’t manage is not knowing if, or when, an employee will show up.  Customer projects are impacted, which impacts the company’s reputation, which impact every employee of the company.  Unreliable employees are quickly moved along.

This column is not your typical Mr. Handyman read but might be a good column for somebody in your life.  Jobs with career advancement are out there, but effort is required.  Being reliable, working hard, acquiring knowledge and applying it will absolutely lead to advancement. 

Whether one continues to practice their chosen trade, gets into project or contract management, starts their own business, or takes these skills in a different direction – you will gain life skills and perspective that will serve you well.  And, you will not be fighting for a $15/hr wage. 

Trade jobs have a future.